Suzanne Treister
Research and development

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Proposition for an Aeroflot Office

This will be a project involving the conversion of an empty shop space in a city, town or village centre, into a temporary Aeroflot office.

The project can take place equally well in a place which already has an Aeroflot office, or one which does not.

The Aeroflot logo will be painted on the exterior and interior of the shop.

Based on my photographic documentation of international Aeroflot offices the shop will be outfitted in Aeroflot style, travel posters will be on the walls, Russian folk art items will be on window ledges, and a model Aeroflot airplane will be placed on a stand near the window.

Utilising my international collection of Aeroflot pamphlets, timetables, newspapers, Russian souvenirs and other paraphernalia for display purposes, the premises to all intents and purposes will function as a simulacrum of a regular Aeroflot office.

During the period of the project I will be behind the desk receiving customers, masquerading as a Russian woman.

In the event of a customer wanting to purchase a ticket I will call up a real Aeroflot office to arrange their flight booking.

I will be able to purchase the tickets with the money paid to me by the customer, in their name.



During the Communist period Aeroflot (previously 'Soviet', now 'Russian airlines' est. 1923), in conjunction somehow with Intourist, was the internationally based commercial airline of a country/countries whose population, until relatively recently was disallowed for the most part from travelling outside its political borders. However it allowed outsiders to travel to selected destinations within and without the Soviet Union, sometimes to a Soviet destination only as a stopover, where the tourist/traveller could purchase Lenin badges, cheap vodka or folk art at the airport shopping facilities.

Aeroflot was the airline that could have, during the Soviet period, were it permitted, or had we gone through the relevant mysterious procedures, allowed me and my family to visit my Fatheršs (once Polish) village which after 1939 became part of Western Ukraine and which was abandoned in 1941 by his Jewish parents during the Nazi invasion.
Because of this I developed, as a late teenager, a certain fascination with the airline and with the Soviet Union and Russian history and literature in general. So did my brother and in 1983 we both travelled on Aeroflot to visit Moscow and Leningrad.

Through this project I will be negotiating my tenuous - could have been - link with a semi-Russian/Soviet identity, having been born to a Pole whose birthplace became part of the Soviet Union in 1939 after his departure, and in so doing trying to come to terms with the feelings we all face when considering, in whatever manner, how things could have been different, if, - and that we could easily not have been at all. During the project I will thus insert myself into the gap between being and the possibility of not being and the possibility of being something/someone else.

All the time I will stay of course in the same place, in the imaginary Aeroflot office.