“dall’Esterno” was an exhibition of fine art photography from Eastern Europe, curated by Zosia, that we organised in Naples, Italy in March 2014 at a literary cafe and art centre Portico340.
The title, “dall’Esterno”, literally means “from the outside”; however, it is also a game of words as the word “Est” means “East” in Italian.
The only generally established fact is that Eastern Europe is the Eastern part of the European continent. However, which countries belong to it is much more difficult to define.
According to the Multilingual Thesaurus of the European Union, Eastern Europe includes: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
According to CIA World Factbook, Eastern Europe covers Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and Southeastern Europe covers Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans.
Within Eastern Europe itself there seems to be little consensus about its cultural definition and or even geographical borders. Many countries seen in the West as such would describe themselves rather as Central, Northern or Southern European, and it is as much a question of identity as cultural heritage and historical or geographical facts.
In the West, however, it tends to be seen as a homogenous area, mostly a source of cheap domestic workers and the background of social, economic and political problems. This perception of Eastern Europe and its inhabitants stems from ignorance, often enforced by its sensationalist portrayal by the media. Eastern European artists are often overlooked and do not get the focus they deserve.
We intended to show Eastern Europe, or what is seen as Eastern Europe, from a different perspective, that of fine art photography. We presented seven artists: Migle Backovaite (Lithuania), Mariya Kozhanova (Kaliningrad), Sonia Firlej (Poland), Yulia Kazban (Russia), Marina Frolova (Ukraine), Alexandra Soman (Romania) and Stanka Koleva (Bulgaria), who use a variety of photographic and printing techniques and represent a variety of styles. They have all participated in different photographic projects; some of them live in their countries of origin and some of them have moved to Western Europe; not all of them make their living as artists.
The aim of our exhibition was to prompt our audience to reflect upon their ideas about geography and identity, theirs and their neighbours’.