The Black Sea Always Turns Red

PERSONAL EXHIBITION
RAW STREETPHOTO GALLERY,
ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
CURATOR MARTH VON LOEBEN
MIXED MEDIA
2019

Sevastopol is a city that has witnessed conflict since its foundation. The city still bears the marks in its buildings and in the memory of its inhabitants, both in a ceremonial and a painful manner. Growing up in Sevastopol means being surrounded by this bellicose heritage and constantly being reminded of the painful past, along with a sense of pride that hides the personal, internal torment to the public. I have always been fascinated by how history is taught and romanticized in school: it’s a practice that transforms gruesome acts of violence into a cold narration of dates, numbers and geographical coordinates, almost to the point of infusing it with an aura of mysticism. What I have found missing from collective knowledge (and, consequentially, from recorded history) are the personal stories of those that fought in the war and witnessed directly its many tragedies. My grandmother was one of these combatants and, throughout my life, she told me several stories and traumatic experiences, passing me down not only a first-hand knowledge of war but also a meaningful and influential emotional burden. In the first chapter of Hundred Year’s War, I chose to explore my own private family history of war and trauma by combining my embroidered sculptures with the tales and witnesses from the visual archive of my grandmother. Each piece has its own story, standing at the border between nightmare and memory, giving an insight to the viewer of the first spark that initiated their creation: the emotional burden handed down on my infant shoulders has shaped the person and the artist I have become. The project was exhibited at RAW Streetphoto Gallery in the spring of 2019 and consisted of a mix-media installation of embroidered objects, natural elements (such as soil, branches and wildflowers from the Crimean region) and a booklet gathering the stories of each sculpture. All the texts were written by the gallery curator Marth von Loeben, with which I am still collaborating to make new chapters in this long-term project.