For my fieldwork, I’ll be going to Brighton Beach to go grocery shopping at a supermarket that has items written only in Russian and sitting at a seaside cafe where locals go to drink vodka in the morning and gossip. This fieldwork combines both people watching and trying to order and buy food in a language I am entirely unfamiliar with, along with going to a place I’ve never been to before.
I have a few ideas of encounters that I could choreograph and pieces that I could make.
Since I’m going to a grocery store filled with items written only in Russian (meaning I have absolutely NO idea what I’m buying), I could create an art piece that is a fake food box with English words written on it. It’ll look completely out of place and perhaps cause a bit of confusion if placed next to Russian products. Olympia Le Tan’s book purses made out of felt were an inspiration for this, as well as Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes. The object I would make would look similar to this, perhaps a felt covered wooden box with letters stitched onto it.
Another route I could take with this project is a more political route. Mark mentioned that a lot of Russians who visit Brighton Beach say that it’s more Russian than Russia itself, which is very interesting to me. I’m not quite sure how to translate this into an art piece or encounter, but I think something to do with Russian flag colors, Russian tourism, or Russian political figures could be some motifs to play around with.
I hope to find an old Russian bookstore while I’m in Brighton Beach. Another project idea I had was to take an old book written in Russian and try and translate parts of it into English or use the cover and a few pages as a template/skeleton to make my own Russian to English translation book using phrases I overhear while people watching at the cafe.
The mix of cultures is very intriguing to me and definitely something I want to explore during this field study. Brighton Beach seems like a great place that hasn’t been totally Americanized and is still very authentic to the immigrants that started it. I’m excited and a little nervous to try and order and speak in Russian but it will be a learning experience for sure.