Vienna-based artist Alexandra Tatar wanted to spend time during the pandemic with her mother who lives in Romania, so in autumn 2020, she signed up to work with her—and countless other migrant workers from Eastern Europe—as a seasonal worker at an Austrian vineyard. The video Mâna care taie, which is based on this experience, is Tatar’s reflection on her own situatedness and an attempt to make visible imperialistic power structures within Europe. Rather than through the representation of physical work, this is accomplished through the disassembling of colonial projections. In a richly layered, multi-perspective collage of video material, cell phone recordings, photo prints, recorded talks, soundscapes, and an astute voice-over in Romanian, Tatar revises the hegemonic image of Austrian wine culture. She sets cracks in rural, romanticized landscape images, sets them in motion, or has them disappear behind layers of wine and dirt, allowing hidden conceptual connections to emerge. The women’s private lives can be condensed to one static take alongside the displayed monotony of a workplace that stretches out endlessly. The center of their lives is the space-filling king size bed on which they eat their soup while trying to deal with their current reality: overtime, lacking infrastructure, cost-saving measures, broken washing machines, cold showers, and finding the right time to ask about their pay—precarious work and existential conditions that the artist seems to know how to cope with better than her mother does.
Rather than an idyll, the rows of grape vines and the wind turbines’ stoically spinning rotor blades disclose a landscape that has been harnessed through exploitation. No people far and wide, only machines that continuously convert kinetic energy—labor that hasn’t inscribed itself into these landscape images, but most definitely into the bodies. A steady, grueling mechanical squeaking of scissors on the soundtrack tells of this. (Michelle Koch)
Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt
Mâna care taie
Documentary, Essay, Experimental