Giovanna di Mauro, “Engaged Artists in Post-Soviet Moldova: Notes from the Field”

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My research seeks to explain why artists become politically engaged in Moldova. The research’s hypotheses are: 1) artists become politically engaged when they live significant experiences during their adolescence; 2) artists become politically engaged when they have high levels of education; 3) artists become politically engaged when they have social connections within which they discuss political subjects. The methodology used for this study is ethnographic in nature. In order to test the research’s hypotheses, identifying and categorising the types of engaged art in Moldova and in order to explain why certain Moldovan artists engage in politics, the research employs an approach based on the use of direct observation and semi-structured interviews. By focusing on ‘live’ events, direct observation provides empirical data that cannot be obtained via other methods – i.e. information that is less controlled by the participants of the study – while semi-structured interviews are useful to understand why artists became politically engaged.

From February 6 to March 6, I interviewed more than 50 artists in Moldova. I also attended theatrical performances, art exhibits, concerts, and various types of rehearsals. My initial findings focus on what determines the political engagement of artists in Moldova. Specifically, I offer a description of the state of Moldovan contemporary art and a number of suggestions as to why some Moldovan artists decide to engage in politics through their art.