Er zijn de grote woorden, de grote verwijten, de politieke dromen, de wederzijdse vermeende of echte bedreigingen, maar in beide landsgedeelten, Rusland en Oekraïne leven net zo’n gewone mensen als wij hier ter plekke. Ik zocht dus twee vrouwelijke fotografen die hun moeder-vaderland van hun kindertijd in beeld brachten en laat je graag meekijken naar hun observaties van het dagelijkse leven in hun thuisland.
Nadia Sablin: I left Russia on the cusp of my adolescence—a move which divided my life into two very distinct parts. When I left Russia, everything changed overnight. I swapped the palaces of Saint Petersburg for the perfect lawns of Middle America, and obsessive reading of the Russian classics for episodes of Full House. I went from being an over-pampered child to suddenly understanding more than my parents. Everything I knew was left behind and I became a new person, even changing my name to a more Westernized version.
When I go back to the former Soviet Union, much of my childhood comes to life again: the smells, the sounds, the angle of light, the way a train car rocks you to sleep on a long trip north. It’s as if I’m traveling not just to a different location but to a different time, and to a version of myself I only vaguely remember. The vastness of the region is a draw as well. Threads of family connections, fairy tales and rumors pull me further and further in. I think I could spend my life focused just on this region and never get tired.
NS: I became addicted to reading when I used to visit my grandfather’s house at the age of seven. At the time, spending summers away from the city felt like being forced into exile. I missed my mom’s bedtime stories, all my friends, and the constant attention of my grandmothers.
‘Years like Water is a decade-long look at a small Russian village, its habitants, ramschackle institutions, nature and mythologie. The series loosely follows the lives of four interconnected families, showing children grow up unsupervised in a magical wilderness and adults strugle for survival in the same. For over ten years of visits, I attented birthdays and funerals, drank tea with the grandmothers, and listened to stories of the villagers’ loniless and love for one another. ‘
‘My photographs from Alekhovshchina explore and describe a world that doen’t fit into the neat narrative of “Putin’ s Russia” put forth by both Eastern and Western media. It is more beautiful and complicated than either side would have us believe, more tragic and hopeful.’ (Nadia Sablin)
Lida Suchy uit Oekraïne brengt haar foto’s samen en maakt er samen met Miso een wonderlijk mooie film van gesteund door authentieke klankopnames. ‘Pictograph.’ Het dagelijks leven in Krvorivnya, Oekraïne. Maak er even tijd voor want het is een bijzondere belevenis een twintigtal minuten deelgenoot te mogen worden van hun dagelijks bestaan. Het kan niet rechtstreeks maar klik op ‘Watch on Vimeo’ en je bent er. Geniet.
Vignettes of life in the village Kryvorivnya in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, where once the novel "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" was written and later filmed and where, to this day, the passage of time has its own pace.
Growing up, Lida Suchy listened to her parents’ tales of the Ukrainian homeland, which they fled because of Soviet persecution during World War II. At night, her father, Zenon, told her bedtime stories about Baba Yaga, the Ukrainian witch, but also tales from his summers spent among the Hutsul culture, deep in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine. There was even a touch of romance to her parents’ first moments in exile: Zenon met his wife-to-be, Irene, when he pulled her through the window of the last train leaving the station. Together, they watched the sunset.(The NY Times Jonathan Blaustein 2016)
“Most of the news coming from Ukraine focuses on the war, the violence, the destruction and extreme problems that are stereotyped. I wanted to show the everyday life of ordinary people,” she said. “I really feel a kinship with them. I would like to transfer, if possible, that sense of touch, that sense of closeness, that I feel with the people.” (ibidem)
I think it’s important to tell personal narratives so that the individual doesn’t become lost in a sea of generalities and stereotypes. Seeing life from the point of view of someone else creates a more empathetic, richer understanding of the world. What we are shown in the news tends to reduce global movements to digestible size. I’m interested in doing the opposite: reaching for the universal through the personal; telling the truth through fiction. (Nadia Sablin as told to Abigail Smithson)
Heren aan 't bewind: Zoals in 1934 verschenen nu in 't vrijwel lege stadion van een stad de heersers van 't moment net voor de spelen hun spelletjes zouden camoufleren en sterven voor de aankomst vaderlandsliefde werd genoemd. Tijd om scheve schaatsen in te ruilen voor een tochtje in de bergen. Vergezichten gratis. Tot aan de horizon die voorlopig nog van niemand is. Even slapen kan tussen de bloemen Wakker worden met de morgen in de lucht.