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Slobozia Texas

Slobozia means freedom in Romanian but is also the name of a sleepy town in the east of the country. The project Slobozia, Texas (2020-21) relives the strange confrontation in the 80ies of Romanians under communist rule with Dallas, the legendary American campy soap. It shows oil-related landscapes, palace interiors and kitschy portraits. Slobozia has a permanent Dallas-vibe since a Romanian millionaire built a replica there of the family mansion in the soap. Ceaușescu allowed the airing of Dallas, which was at the time the only western fiction on state television. Allegedly because he thought the soap would prove to be anti-capitalistic with all its corruption, sorrows and misery. It backfired and according to some, Dallas even played a part in the Romanian revolution.

The aesthetics, the luxury, the way of life, the American dream – everything about theshow exemplified the thing that Romanians did not have enough of under Ceaușescu’s regime: hope and dreams. Dallas was not innocent fictional entertainment, it carried cultural imperialist views on the world and how it should be run. In Slobozia, Texas, ordinary Romanians with a connection to the soap (people working in the Dallas Hotel or active on Dallas fan-sites f.i.) re-enact scenes of Dallas, being photographed in the unforgiving light of a soap opera set, dressed to kill, absorbed in their dreams of the past. They act and play themselves in the same image, they told me their stories, how it was then and how it is now. Blending fiction and reality, theatrical gestures, cinematic gazes, pastel colours, mirrors and eerie video stills, the images constitute a throwback to the hyper-capitalist 80-ies. Slobozia,Texas is visualizing a past moment of future hope while documenting the present.

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