Marina Mangubi
Assistant Professor
Department of Art, Ebert
College of Wooster
1220 Beall Avenue
Wooster, OH 44691
Telephone: (330) 263-2425

Portfolio Presentation: “Music on the Bones”

The series of prints "Music on the Bones" is based on a story about gramophone records that were pressed on discarded hospital X-rays in Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II. As the Allied front undermined the isolationism of the Stalinist regime, an easement of prohibition on Western goods ensued. Amidst shipments of canned pork and chocolate, American popular music trickled across the border. With shellac (a precursor of vinyl) in short supply, enterprising youths invented a recycling technology that utilized a plentiful by-product of war: exposed X-ray film. Before long, this black market industry of obscure origin flooded the region with American jazz, while the Communist government turned a blind eye.

The project probes questions of cultural continuity, translation of cultures and, particularly, social change brought about by the infusion of foreign pop culture. The record "on the bones" is a recording of collective memory of a generation in whose mind traces of massacre were supplanted by the experience of pleasure foreshadowing new freedom, albeit half a century later. But for the people dancing to music on the bones, the irony was diffused as these records turned.

I chose to interpret the story through the print medium and devised printing techniques not only to underscore a physical connection between the process of pressing a record and printing an etching, but also to convey how memories become veiled and transformed through time. In the palimpsest matrix built from conventional etching, photo etching and chine collé techniques, isolated images of the past are made coherent.

MARINA MANGUBI is a painter, printmaker and installation artist. She was born in Moscow in 1966 and grew up in Northern California. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a double major in Art and in Psychology (with an emphasis in Neuroscience) in 1988. Mangubi received her M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, School of Art and Design, in 1993. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Painting and Printmaking at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in permanent collections in museums in Maine and in Oregon. Most recently, she was an artist fellow at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.