Printed matter

Maria Kapajeva — Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear

Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear by Maria Kapajeva is a multi-layered, multidisciplinary story about the relationship between collective and personal memories by looking at the community surrounding the Kreenholm Textile Mill in Narva, Estonia.

Publication Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear
Artist(s) Maria Kapajeva
Publisher Milda Books

A story of a small community in the larger context of post-industrial cities worldwide. After its 150 years of successful existence, the Kreenholm Manufacturing Company went through a long redundancy process from 1996 up until its complete closure in 2009. In almost every family in the city, someone worked in the mill, as did the author’s parents. As the daughter of a textile designer, she spent her childhood at this mill, drawing fabric patterns and dreaming of the same job her mother had.

In 2014, Maria Kapajeva began to interview former workers about their memories of the mill. Together with the interviews, the artist collected photographs that her interviewees carefully kept in their family albums and then kindly shared with her. These pictures show a mill full of powerful rhythms of looms and lively collectives of women workers who in today’s competitive world seem like a bright and distant dream.

In Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear the artist interweaves her mother’s work, her personal childhood dreams and failures with those of the workers’ collective to emphasize both, personal and collective memories that together form our historical narratives.

The title Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear is borrowed from the lyrics of March of Enthusiasts, from the Soviet movie The Bright Way (1940), starring Lyubov Orlova in the role of a female weaver who made her ‘Cinderella’ journey from peasant to Stakhanovite, a heroic worker (this line of the song was later censored for doubts raised by the word ‘unclear’). Both the idea of a wonderful dream and the ambiguity that characterizes our memories of the past are a common thread in this artist publication. 

„The film The Bright Way inspired me to come work here. The main role in it was played
by Lyubov Orlova. In the film, she meandered amongst the machinery and sang. Cinema,
of course, is not real life. But I really liked it.“

The book is published in three languages: Estonian, Russian and English. It is designed by Jaan Evart (EE/NL); with written contributions by Liisa Kaljula (EE) and Philipp Dorl (UK). With kind support by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the British Council in Estonia, the Creative Europe Programme A Woman’s Work and the Gallery of Photography Ireland.

You can purchase this publication on the publisher’s website.

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