Four Corners is delighted to host Zula Rabikowska’s Nothing But a Curtain.
Tues - Sat, 11.00 - 18.00. Free entry
This multi-media exhibition seeks to challenge cultural and gender stereotypes in as well as and about the region known as the former “Eastern Bloc”.
The end of communism led to the escalation of gender-specific segregation in the labour market, contributing to a ‘feminisation of poverty’ and economic divisions between men and women. To this day, growing up in Central and Eastern Europe means facing male-dominated political systems, sexist stereotypes, restrictive beauty standards, familialial and religious expectations.
In the summer of 2021, Zula travelled 4,552 miles (7325.80 km) across the former “Eastern Bloc”, to document how younger generations experience traces of an obsolete world order. Tracing the border known as the “Iron Curtain”, Zula photographed and interviewed 104 people about their personal experiences of gender and womanhood. Travelling only by public transport, Zula visited 20 cities across Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
Nothing But a Curtain consists of photographs, moving image, archival images and documents, and installations. This multidisciplinary approach seeks to challenge linear documentary story-telling conventions and to allow for a plurality of voices and experiences to be seen and heard. Zula embarked on this journey, with a Soviet-made Kiev 80 camera, produced in a military factory in 1978 in Kiev. The metal shutter of the camera imprints a “curtain” of light within the images, echoing the way Soviet history has shaped gender identity.
To weave the chorus of voices and experiences directly to the project, Zula asked each participant to contribute a piece of fabric, which she stitched together whilst travelling. In this way, Zula created her own metaphorical version of the former political divide, which once separated the so-called “East” from “West.”
Nothing but a Curtain highlights the heterogeneity of life and identity in these countries and through this, resists the homogenising, xenophobic and misogynistic legacy of Western Cold War thinking—thinking that condensed millions of people into a “Bloc.”