Vita Litvak, a 2002 Haverford College graduate and current visiting assistant professor of fine arts, grew up in Tiraspol, the capital of the self-declared post-Soviet nation of Transnistria. Litvak’s family immigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia shortly after the violent civil war that raged through the region in the summer of 1992. But her photos and videos are still informed by her experiences of migration and investigate its effects on perception, identity, and subjectivity.
Returning to Transnistria for a short stay in the fall of 2011, Litvak found her homeland an arresting reminder of lost potential, failed Communist ideologies, and false promises. Я Подарю Тебе Мир (I Will Give You the World) and Other Promises from Transnistria, an exhibit of her photos that opens in the Haverford College Atrium Gallery on Feb. 7, features photos from that trip that depict both a physical place and a personal space full of memories. Through her use of light and color Litvak renders the everyday with a particular poignancy, and as a native and émigré of the region, she has a unique perspective on a nation frozen in time.
Still part of Moldova when Litvak was born in 1980, the region declared independence shortly after the break up of the Soviet Union. Today, Transnistria’s Soviet-style communist government continues to print its own currency, hold elections, issue Transnistrian passports, and maintain a standing army. Preserving much of the old communist milieu and its visual referents, the Transnistrian political and cultural landscape is steeped in Soviet nostalgia.
Litvak’s photographs of political monuments and crumbling apartment blocks from the Soviet era are contrasted against the verdant landscapes and clear skies of Tiraspol. People of various ages are captured in suspended time, waiting to be photographed at their wedding, waiting for the bus, or to reach their destination at the end of a long day. They serve as visual portals to make manifest the unfulfilled potential of a better life. Through a carefully sequenced installation of her photographs, the depiction of Tiraspol and its surrounding suburbs is transformed into a metaphor for a region full of contradictions as Litvak has experienced it.
Vita Litvak earned an MFA in photography from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008. She has taught at Richard Stockton College, Germantown Friends School, and Moore College of Art and Design. As a visiting professor at Haverford College she teaches a courses including “Foundation Photography” and the “Senior Major Seminar.”
February 7 through April 20, 2014
The Atrium Gallery
Marshall Fine Arts Center
February 7, 2014
4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
February 7, 2014
5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Artist Talk Details
Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekends: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Open during spring break