... And The Moldavian One

HD video, 2008, 31 min. 48 sec., 16:9

”...şi cel moldovean ” / “...And the Moldavian One”

"In ... And the Moldavian One, with the archaic image of shepherds Aurelia Mihai once again opens up a road into the history of her country, which she portrays with the stories of sixteen shepherds and a collective voice. The stories center on the River Pruth, which is the border between Romania and Moldavia and stands for the division of two peoples who speak the same language and were originally one. Nevertheless, the cultural traditions on both sides of the river are very closely related, and Mihai sketches a wonderfully poetic cultural history of her home country with the stories of the calm and matter-of-fact shepherds. They relate how they learned their trade from their parents and grandparents, how they learned to read and understand nature and their native country’s landscape. In this way share their knowledge with today’s viewers — as witnesses to a culture that has long since become anachronistic; that can only be preserved as a memory, as artistic fiction. The apparent dialogue of the shepherds on both sides of the river is also a fiction that the artist has produced with the aid of media, and yet the cross-border utterances possess an amazing similarity. On the one hand, the river symbolizes the border, insurmountable, and on the other hand, the time that has passed and is irretrievably lost. The occupation of shepherd is linked to the mythical sheepskin cloak that each of the protagonists passes on to the next, and which seems to transform each of the very individual persons into a supraindividual, cultic figure: a traditional, historical construction of a figure and at the same time an artistic figure that calls to mind Joseph Beuys’ coyote performance I love America and America loves me. (...)"

Excerpt: Roads to (Hi)Stories - On Aurelia Mihai’s Video Art by REINHARD SPIELER, Roads to (Hi)Stories, DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin, 2017

The subject of the movie “...şi cel moldovean” / “...and the Moldavian one” seems to be the Moldavian shepherd, who keeps practicing his craft, passed on from father to son, today as always, even if he is forced to throw the wool away or encounters difficulties in selling his cheese. It is conceived as a fictional dialogue taking place over the territorial frontier separating Romania (more precisely, the region called Moldavia) from the Moldavian Republic, two countries severed by the river Prut and by history. It is not only the language that remained unchanged; many of the villages situated on the opposite banks of the Prut bear the same name, and the cheese is made following the same recipe. I chose the motif of the shepherd for its legendary connotation in the Romanian culture, as well as for the fact that this traditional form of sheepherding has no chance of surviving in the European Community. In my movie, the historical context is shaped starting from the accounts of the people living on the banks of the river Prut, from stories lived by themselves and by their ancestors. When I chose this subject, my intention was not solely to reveal an anachronism of our days: I was also trying to describe, using archaic images and multiple angles, the economical, social and historical context of the present.

Excerpt: Synopsis by Aurelia Mihai