The subject of Pavel Brăila’s film Shoes for Europe obliquely refers to the vast Eurasian landmass that many artists explore throughout the exhibition. The forty-minute work shows the labour-intensive and painstaking process of changing the train wheels at the border between Moldova and Romania, where the tracks from the East have different gauges from those from the West. Moldova, just like the nearly two dozen countries that once were within the sphere of influence or part of the Russian Empire and the USSR, still uses the 1520 mm Russian gauge, which is the second-most common railway gauge in the world and one of the largest continuous infrastructures ever built. Here, the complex relationship between Moldova and Romania, with the latter positioning itself as the more European ‘big brother’, is accentuated by the infrastructure. The film addresses the physicality of the cultural and economic differences between the East and the West, emphasizing the need to ‘change shoes’ before transitioning to the western track.
Work in the exhibition: Shoes for Europe (2002), video, 25' 24". Courtesy of the artist