“Not a Mail Order Bride” is a manifest against pre-made judgement, biased labelling and discrimination.
While the modern society has made progress in promoting multiculturalism, the truth is we are subject to our own stereotypes and we can see only as far as our own bias will let us. It's a daily reality for many: being seen through one's appurtenance to a nationality, race, ethnicity or minority group rather than being seen for the individuals we are.
Based on my personal experience as a migrant, this work aims to explore further the idea of belonging and living anchored at the confluence of two very different cultures.
General opinion tends to see the mixed couples formed by an Anglo-Saxon man and an Eastern European or Asian woman in a mail order bride type of relation.
But what happens when we focus beyond one's race or nationality? If we go beyond their skin, do we start to see the person and not the stereotyped projection?
In many cases, the wife is highly educated, has a career and dreams just the same like anyone else. What people don't realise is that by taking a conscious decision to move, she leaves a great deal behind, in her home country, to make the relationship work.
“Not a Mail Order Bride” is a metaphoric self-portrait, charged with imagery and symbols meaningful to me.
I have deliberately manipulated the portrait to a drawing and I striped off any likeness to myself, opting to fill the blanks of my wedding dress (hence the title) with images of things significant to me. They are meant to give the onlooker a glimpse into what makes my world. In particular, the traditional Romanian symbols speak of a culture that goes all the way back to Neolithic.
The human dimension - the flesh, is replaced intentionally with wood texture. It's a metaphoric question, challenging the public to see a person with different eyes. One cannot see through wood. Nor can we see character through one glimpse. But if we look more attentively, doesn't the wood have a beautiful texture, with an array of refined lines and tones? Just the same, if we start seeing people for what they really are and without labelling them before hand, I think we might discover a whole new world.
This work was my final assessment in the Digital Techniques course but I intend to turn it into a series. If you are part of a mixed couple and you would like to share your story, please contact me.
and to give you and idea of how big the printed image was, here is the scale. (Photo courtesy of my lovely classmate Sarah)