Carolina Dutca + Valentin Sidorenko

Carolina Dutca and Valentin Sidorenko are two artists. They work with photography, documentary films and text. Since 2019 they live and work together in Moldova.

Carolina was born in 1995 in Bender (Moldova). She studied art and documentary photography at the Fotografika Academy (St. Petersburg, Russia). Valentin was born in 1995 in Gornyak (Russia). He graduated from Russian State University of Cinematography with a major in Animation and Multimedia (Moscow, Russia), also he graduated from Fotografika — the Academy of Documentary and Art Photography (St. Petersburg, Russia).

Carolina likes to experiment and to walk on the edge of the genre. The beauty of creative process is the main thing in her works. Valentin adores digging through the discovered archives and plays the detective. He scans for interesting people in the streets and writes his dreams down.

In their works they create a sacral world. They observe the disruptions in the usual order of events where the distinctions between good and evil, life and death, are sometimes blurred. In this torn world, they try to make connections through art.

They took part in international festivals and exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Foundation (United Arab Emirates), Fondation François Schneider (France), The National Museum of Art of Moldova (Moldova), Golubitskoe Art Foundation (Russia), Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Les Rencontres d'Arles (France), National Taras Shevchenko Museum (Ukraine), Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art (Russia) etc.

Winners of Contemporary Talents 10th Fondation François Schneider (France), Contemporary Photography Funding The Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung Foundation (Germany), Prix Les Nuits Photo Freelens (France) etc.


Every Friday evening a biology teacher, Elena, comes to the river bank to feed the fish with cookies. It was like this for many years, until one day she came across a round, elongated object wrapped in a fishing net. 

The object was shimmering in different colors. Putting an ear to it one could hear a faint sound from inside this treasure, as if someone was tapping a spoon on the bark of a tree. For all its merits the object was completely useless. The woman even tried to sell it at a flea market but the buyers only examined and listened it carefully. It was gathering dust for a long time in Elena's warm apartment until a turquoise creature hatched out of it.

When Elena was a child her dad loved to narrate her about extinct creatures. Around three hundred million years ago a very special amphibian species - Labyrinthodontia buccellatum - lived on the banks of the Dniester River that flowing through the Moldova Republic. Neither aquatic nor terrestrial creatures, they were very secretive animals, so few people were pretty lucky to see them. Over time, the number of the species decreased until they completely disappeared.

This particular species Elena encountered. In the early days, the skin tones of the amphibian changed from purple to ginger, one leg turned blue and the toes were gray like sand. Elena examined the body of an amphibian.  Inside its belly she found three bicycle wheels, four rusty boats, and one carpet cracker. As a result, heavy stuff poisoning and fever.

The woman began to take care of him. She taught him to sew, comb and finish the crumbs after eating. Elena gave the foundling a name – Apă [ah’pə], which means "water" in Moldavian language. 

Elena believes that we all came out of the water. Nowadays, every Friday they collect trash together on the riverbank and perhaps one day they will find a new egg.

Magical water lilies, an amphibian creature, a former scientist looking like a babushka and a crochet rug take place in the heart of a river. This is a setting and the protagonists of the fable told by the Moldavian duo Dutca-Sidorenko.

In the form of a visual tale, the artists’ duo dedicate their joint work to the Dniester River, which is rises in the Carpathian mountains and flows into the Black Sea. Carolina Dutca, who is from Bender, a small town near the river, wants to evoke various issues related to the river, such as excessive sand exploitation, abandoned ships, floods that erode the water and waste dumps. While researching the history of Transnistria, a Moldavian region bordering Ukraine, the artists discovered that the White Water Lily was an endangered species.

Their meeting with Elena Nikolaevna, a former biology teacher, fascinated by her father’s childhood stories about a vanished amphibian world, encouraged them to recreate a new legend, that of 'Apă'. Together they invent a story, where multicolored embroidered rugs, extravagant costumes worn by extras, synthetic water lilies, and stranded frogmen are part of a battered and deserted nature. Elena Nikolaevna then becomes the protagonist of her own story with the amphibious creature she has named Apă, “water” in Moldavian. The former biologist collects the waste that pollutes the waters of the river with Apă to make ‘magic’ rugs.

The result is a set of 15 surreal, burlesque, joyful and dreamlike photographs, in which a set of characters and scenes unfold the tradition of popular theatre.

IG: dutca_sidor

The rugs from that wonderful series are available for sale: