Maria Kapajeva (Estonia/UK) received MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster (UK, 2013) and BA (Hons) Photography at the University for the Creative Arts (UK, 2009). In her practice she explores a diverse spectrum of cultural identity and gender issues within historical and contemporary contexts mostly using a multidisciplinary approach by moving across site specific installations, video, photography and publications, often being inspired by narratives as conveyed through research, meetings, personal interactions, materials and objects. She is often looking for stories that have been considered unimportant or sidetracked as well as deals with political and social issues of the past and question how they resonate in people’s contemporary lives. Working with installation and object-based art she often embed found objects and images into unique pieces using various printing and stitching techniques. She won numerous awards including A Woman’s Work Award via Creative 

Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear is a multi-layered and multi-disciplinary story of the relationships between collective and personal memories by looking at the community surrounding a textile mill in Narva, Estonia, now closed, of which Kapajeva's family was a part. The story of one small community is set in the larger context of post-industrial cities worldwide, as they seek new identities. It depicts a mill filled by powerful rhythms of looms and lively collectives of women workers that, in today’s competitive world seems like a bright and distant dream. Maria has focused on women, with a heightened sensitivity towards social and political matters in post-Soviet culture.

As the daughter of a textile designer, she spent her childhood at the mill, drawing fabric patterns and dreaming about the same job her mother had. She tries to interweave her mother’s work, her childhood dreams and their failures with the workers’ collective ones to underline the division between 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 because of doubt raised by the word ‘unclear’. The idea of a wonderful dream is intended as a common thread throughout the book but so too is the lack of clarity that characterizes our memories of the past.

The book Dream is Woderful, Yet Unclear is currently on pre-sale on Milda Books. A non-profit, non-commercial, Baltic-based publisher of documentary photographers, visual writers, artists, and poets from the CEE region, founded in 2017. Through this book, the international community will get access to the recent historical changes in the region through the individual and rather personal stories of the community in Estonia. We believe these stories have a unique quality to be related to the other stories of various post-industrial communities all over the world who went through difficult times of the industries' closure.


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