Elena

2007 | 32mins | Colour
By Mieke Bal
single element from Nothing is Missing

Genre: Documentary / Installation Piece
Romanian with English subtitles



Schooled by life, Elena tells her story with wisdom and revolt

Elena is old, and busy on her farm in North-Eastern Romania, near the Ukraine border. Her only son emigrated to Canada. How do two people separated so drastically after a life together, speak to each other about just that? Every line says something important. The backdrop of it all is that her life is passing while her most precious boy is far away. That poverty and hardship go together cuts right through the romantic idealization culturally instilled in us through the aesthetics of the picturesque. The only way to turn a form of slavery into a modest but autonomous life is to buy land. And as Elena tells us, this is the trap: your life wastes away before you get anywhere. The monologue is interrupted now and then by the son who interviews her while she looks directly at him makes her also look into the camera behind which he sits. Thus, she also looks straight at the viewer. The portrait makes Elena appear as a strong, person, a loving mother and a lonely woman. This makes her representative of the mothers of migrants whose stories constitute the video installation _Nothing is Missing_, of which Elena is one instance; one voice.

Elena was shown at the following events:

  • “Unseen but not Invisible: Facing Mothers of Migrants”. With lecture at National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, 17 December 2013
  • Exhibition “Exstranjerías”, curated by Néstor García Canclini and Andrea Giunta, MUAC (Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporanea) México Ciudad, January 28 – April 30, 2012 (with catalogue)
  • Solo exhibition “La última frontera / The Last Frontier,” Fundación José García Jiménez, Murcia, Spain, February 2 – March 30, 2011 (with catalogue)
  • at the installations of Nothing is Missing listed here: Nothing is Missing

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