Elly Clarke

Moskow – Beijing

12 May - 22 June, 2007

An exhibition occuring from Clarke’s travel in September 2005 on board the Trans-Siberian Train from Moscow to Beijing. Realising there was only so much she would be able to see through the train’s windows, she attempted to overcome language barriers and interact with passengers from Russia, Mongolia and China in order to learn more about the cultures she was traversing. She interacted with fellow passengers in two ways. First, through a series of interviews, facilitated by pre-written cue cards in Russian and Chinese. Second, through asking the same passengers to take photographs of their journey with a disposable camera – from the day they met until they reached their final destinations. When she returned home, she found Russian and Chinese-speaking people through friends in both London and Los Angeles to interpret the interview footage.

On one level, the exhibition was about communication in the context of Russia and China, which as nations are undergoing rapid transformation, both economically and politically. This was demonstrated most clearly by the translators, who talked about their experiences of each culture and read the interviews in terms not only of what is being said, but also why. On another level, the project may be read through a more complicated lens: in terms of race, mobility and privilege.

Moskow – Beijing consisted of hand-printed colour photographs, video installation, photographs by passengers on the train and ephemera.

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