Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear

Milda Books, 2020

The book got The Krauszna-Krausz Photography Book Award 2021.

This body of work explores the relationships between collective and personal memories by looking at the community surrounding a textile mill, now closed, of which my 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. As an exhibition, 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. I focused on women, with a heightened sensitivity towards social and political matters in post-Soviet culture. 

As the daughter of a textile designer, I spent my childhood at the mill, drawing fabric patterns and dreaming about the same job my mother had. I try to interweave my mother’s work, my 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 of the book is borrowed from the lyrics of ‘March of Enthusiasts’, the main song from for a Soviet movie ‘The Bright Way’ (Alexandrov, 1940), starring Lubov 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 book is published in 3 languages: Estonian, Russian and English, designed by Jaan Evart (EE/NL), printed by Green Print (LV), contributed by Liisa Kaljula (EE), Philipp Dorl (UK) and supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, British Council in Estonia, Creative Europe Programme of the European Union ‘A Woman’s Work‘, Gallery of Photography Ireland and Arctic Paper.

The video documentation of the book launch with the mill community at NART on October 17, 2020, is available here to watch.

To purchase, please visit Milda Books.