the camera is a witness to my time with
someone who taps a maple tree
someone who remembers party line telephones
someone who survived war
I have two legal names: Mara Vija Pelecis and Māra Vija Pelēce
Growing up, I spent much time with all of my grandparents. Over plates of Eastern European-modified wild rice hotdish, I heard their stories. Stories of leaving their family behind,
stories of snipers in the woods, stories of hiding in tunnels in Berlin, stories of waiting for years in refugee camps. They read me letters from their friends, other writers, who stayed in Latvia – written in the Soviet era of severe censorship, where one had to understand what was said between the lines, and know how to write back, between those same lines.
At face value are the cultural references; the settings for filming, the use of language locally.
My work seeks to look beyond the borders of Mazvalsts un Lielvalsts, or, Small Country and Big Country, to understand the implications of having been born in one or the other.
Living within both cultures has allowed me to observe the same cultural nuances from very different world views. Discerning experiences on an individual level and collectively,
I continue to seek – where can we find common ground?