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I Left My Heart In Rhodesia
Part of the Image Diplomacy project
29.7 x 42 cm framed print; slide projection (81 black and white slides); sound (10 mins., loop), 2017 Sound design: Alexander Khokhlov Courtesy of the artist. Сourtesy of photograph: Associazione Italia Russia, Milano.

In 1958 a letter arrived in Moscow from the Photographic Association of Northern Rhodesia with the request that a Soviet photographic exhibition be sent to that country. The exhibition was to have been formalised as a slide projection accompanied with audio commentary. There is no documentary confirmation that this exhibition ever happened.

The installation I Left My Heart in Rhodesia follows the exhibition proposal and re-enacts an exhibition that never happened. It is composed of a slide projection, sound piece and a replica of the original letter thus creating a proto-cinematic space where the elements are isolated and spatialised. The sequence of moving images is slowed down in projection, the script is visible on the wall, all united by a score of a hypothetical film.

The photographs selected for the installation are taken from the archive of photographic exhibitions sent from the USSR to Europe during the Cold War and reveal the discrepancies within the Internationalist project that was intended to build networks between the socialist Second World and the decolonising Third World.

The galleries sent abroad conveyed the entanglement between the colonising and modernising gaze. They render the Soviet Union a multinational, resource-rich universe, and yet one group is missing from the multi-ethnic iconography. The absence of a “Russian” figure in the collective portrait facilitated a tacit identification between “imperial” and “Soviet” identity and space.

The installation strives to provides both a critical perspective on the history of the collective political projects of the last century and on the present moment in time, which is increasingly visual, photographic and representational.

The soundtrack of the installation features the song I Left My Heart in Rhodesia by Dixie Kwankwa as broadcast on the radio of this British protectorate in south central Africa.