Zestre | Video performance by Ioana Turcan

I walk with them
My grandpa’s violence
And my grandma’s anger
When we. Walk they never leave
She said you’re like
Your father’s hands
And mom’s eyes
Your upper lip is like
Hers, slim
Your lower one is like
His, meaty
But your mouth - your words are mine,
Fiery and fast
Like anger that never leaves
I never thought I was like
Until those two knives were crossed
At my throat
And I met my grandma’s anger
And my grandpa’s will to kill

I have gathered under beds, under sofas and in the attic many textiles and clothing items mostly passed down from mother to daughter.

From the moment my grandmother found out I was a girl, which was when I was born back in 90s, she started collecting that dowry for me to have when I got married. Most of the embroideries are from the pre-1940s in the Transylvania and Maramureș area, but they have changed since we are approaching our days.

I have always wanted to get rid of this dowry which takes up not only my living space but also an emotional space. As my relationship with my grandmother has been increasingly precarious due to her unfortunate behaviour gathered and developed over long years of trauma, I have also wanted to vent my anger on this dowry that always comes with the responsibility of marrying me and having children in time to see them through life.

With my later years at home I studied more closely the traumas that generationally, the women in my family went through and realised that these could be avoided if we thought of an emotional dowry to "pass on" and not a strictly material one, a dowry of stories and teachings, of time spent together whereby we learn from each other.

Of course, during these years I understood that past generations did not have the same access that we have today, time, openness and especially conditions so although the anger that something could have been prevented has not completely gone but it has been joined by a certain understanding and complexity in dealing with the subject.

The duty was to stay alive
I forgot I was ugly those days
Surrounded by suicidal wives and mothers
Not sure how she’s still here at times
The highschool graduation was a real bed
The couch was failing me
Without the chair pulled close
The backyard toilet was ours
Where the neighbours could hear me say
What you’re doing there mama
With my ear on the wooden door
I used the drain, from my feet
And the bucket during the night

This artistic creation was produced with the support of an Energie! Creative Grant awarded by the Municipality of Timișoara, through the Center for Projects, within the Power Station component of the National Cultural Programme "Timișoara – European Capital of Culture in the year 2023".
The material does not necessarily represent the position of the Center for Projects and the latter is not responsible for its content or how it may be used.

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