The New Past by Tamara Stoffers

13.03.2019 — 29.06.2019

The young Dutch artist Tamara Stoffers boldly experiments with collage technique by combining old book illustrations, postcards and newspaper clippings of the Soviet era.

By mixing disparate objects from a common cultural and historical era, she creates new visual connections and semantic situations that are interesting to the viewer. Her work is based on a feeling of nostalgia for a past that she has never experienced.

The Soviet Union left a rich cultural and historical heritage, closely connected with ideology and propaganda. Its visual language is nostalgic for some and still relevant for others. It is particularly interesting how a foreigner understands and interprets the Soviet world, which is fundamentally different from the world in which she lives. “The first time I found an old book about the USSR, I was captivated by the strong visual language and the recognizability and unexpected contrast of the imagery. It was a very surreal and incomprehensible world,” says Tamara Stoffers.

She became interested in the heritage of the Soviet Union after visiting the exhibition Soviet Design 1950-1980 (Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 2015-2016). The exhibition consisted of more than 500 items: furniture, textiles, household appliances and utensils, toys, advertising posters and unique archival materials. Tamara was so inspired that she began to collect everything that was associated with the Soviet era: from traditional dolls to painted spoons, campaign cards and figures of Lenin. The first book in the Stoffers collection was the album Portrait of Moscow (London: Paul Hamlyn, 1965). Its illustrations formed the basis of many of Tamara’s future collages.

Stoffers likes to break down traditional Soviet images, placing them in a new context inside the collage. She approaches the process of creating her works like a game and, leaving viewers free to make their own interpretations, offers to join in the game herself. In the Netherlands, this type of game would be called “tickling the imagination”.

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