Taking the shape of embroideries, Time Lost presents the administrative documents for which the artist had to apply during the nine years she spent travelling in a presumably borderless and united Europe as an art student and scholarship holder from Central Europe. Oravecz tried to meet the bureaucratic requirements as best as she could. Accordingly, she embroidered every letter, code, stamp and signature on the “forms”, even though the task proved time-consuming, senseless and, due to the countless details, simply impossible – not to mention that she occasionally hurt herself with the needle.
I left Hungary in 1998. Since then I have been living and working in five different countries, conducting an existence in between legal and illegal for 10 years and then still waiting other 3 years until 2011 for the opening of the free labor market in Germany for the “new EU member countries”. It means that before 2011 I could stay in Germany but I could have just a student jobs and earn at the max 400 € per month. In Austria for example, in order to get a student’s permit you ought to have 7000 € in the bank account that time it was the value of our family house in Hungary and it was impossible for me. I started attending the University of the Arts in Vienna and at the same time I was cleaning houses, but the money I made was only enough to survive. After two years, when I had worked ten hours a day, even during the summer, I managed to have half of the amount of money on my account, and with the help of some Austrian friends I had the whole 7000 €.
The agreement was that they would put half of the money on my account and would give it back after the authorities’check. I finally got my first six months’ students permit.
When I still was “not legal” I would wake up with a stomachache and went to work everyday with fear, if they caught me, since I didn’t have the appropriate documents, they could have me expelled from the EU for over two years.
When I arrived in Italy I faced the same problems, the owner of the room I was in, refused to confirm on a written document that I was living in her house, so I was without a place to live until someone would sign the proof of the address. So i started to produce fake documentation on addresses, insurance and money.
I never wanted to do anything against the law, both in Spain and in Germany, I was living as a “permanent tourist”, because being registered in a school was impossible to me.
I have wasted 13 years of my life faking documents, and it is a quite long time. My work now consists of the weaving of all the documents I struggled to get. I follow the pre-determinated rules of bureaucracy, sawing every small letter, number or code with patience, accounts for the the impossibility to completing the requested materials.
Sometimes I hurt myself while using the needle but I want to finish the work at any cost.
Am I wasting my time?
Is this time lost?…but what for?
Timea Oravecz is a visual artist. She was born in Budapest in 1975.
All the images:
Courtesy the artist