“I started to make collages as a way of playing,” says Moldovan photographer Maria Guțu. “For me, collages are like photos created without a camera.”
Indeed, Guțu says, she partly started making collages out of frustration that she didn’t own a camera four years ago. Since 2016, she has focused on documentary photography, but she might return to the art of collage-making now that the coronavirus pandemic is temporarily isolating us into our homes. “They are like meditation.”
Born in the northern Moldovan town of Glodeni, the 23-year-old has always been interested in art. Her family, however, had more pragmatic considerations in mind, and Guțu first went to medical school before switching to study contemporary literature and Japanese six months later. She then enrolled as a student of imagery for film and television at the Academy of Music, Theatre and Art in Chisinau. Inspired by Romanian contemporary neo-avant garde artist Geta Brătescu, Romanian satirical collage artist Ion Bârlădeanu, and Moldovan conceptual artist Ghenadie Popescu, Guțu’s collages include both conceptual, repetitive elements and social critique, as well as an interest in existential and psychological truths.
Many use vintage Soviet and German magazines found in second-hand bookshops and flea markets. Guțu says she became fascinated by the idealised socialist world these publications depicted, a place she only knew from her older relatives’ nostalgic memories. Yet Guțu’s collages also resist glamourising the past.
On the contrary, while some works place alienated human beings in their different environments — from domineering socialist modernist blocks of flats and busy construction sites to sparse rural gardens and beautiful nature — others directly engage with the multiple gazes over, and facets of, the female body and experience. This wide range of themes and eras depicted in the artworks creates fresh ways of remembering the past, and thinking the present.