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New Video, New Europe

A Survey of Eastern European Video
January 11 – February 22, 2004

Pavel Braila
Shoes for Europe, 2002
At a railway station at the Moldava-Romania border, rail cars must undergo "adaptation", a process in which the cars are outfitted with wheels of a shorter axle dimension, to complete the journey from east to west. A relic of the Cold War, this discrepancy in standards will be maintained until new rail lines can be laid. Although the fall of the Berlin Wall was historically monumental, in relationship to this task it remains strictly symbolic. In the meantime, this stubborn bit of history is maintained through hard and thankless work. Shoes for Europe, however, is not a meditation on labor as much as it is a portrait of the train in its dual guise as an allegory for the rate of history, and a metonym for the history of modernity. This might be hard to discern because of the work's utter sobriety, which is its dominant characteristic. The shots are largely static with an impeccable sense of composition. Braila sees the train no less beautifully than any stalwart modernist. He does not, however, celebrate the train as heralding a revolution in perception, but rather as an historical contraption subject to historical trappings known as borders.

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