As a Dutch born artist, the Soviet Union presents a world opposite to the one I live in.
Through my collages I try to grasp what it is about and make it my own. The first time I found an old book about the USSR, I felt captivated by their strong visual language, the importance of art and the recognizability of their imagery.
The propaganda featured strong, brave looking people who were simplified and angular. The colors in their illustrations were usually striking, yet their architecture was predominantly grey and at times futuristic.
Living in the Netherlands, I had rarely seen a structure purely built out of concrete and without ornament. The houses in this country are usually built out of red bricks and have many decorative details. The simple brutalist housing structures and the monumental streets and buildings within the big cities were very contrasting too. Then I stumbled upon a big fountain shaped like corn located in Moscow as well as a bush shaped like a military tank with a real security guard. All in all it was a very surreal incomprehensible world.
I wondered why it was that I had never seen images of the USSR, it seemed like a well-kept secret that I wanted to understand. This is when I started actively collecting everything that had to do with the subject; from Russian dolls and traditionally painted wooden spoons, to propaganda postcards and desk-sized Lenin statues. While I was already working with collage, my subject slowly shifted to the subject I was learning about and collecting. After a while I started using my books as a source of usable pictures.
Through merging images I get a grip on the environment and the actions people take, by putting them into new situations and blowing up objects out of proportion. The challenge lies within this found footage, as I am restricted by the sizes of the original images. Cuts and grids reveal the process in the final image. It is a way of having fun and exploring what Soviet Union could have been about.
Tamara Stoffers is a Dutch visual artist expressing herself through the media of collage and painting. Her graduation at the Minerva Academy of art in 2017 marked the start of her professional career. In February 2018, her works will be exhibited during Rotterdam Art Week at the Haute Photographie fair.
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