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Self-portrait, 2022

Birchbark, dead leaves, dry grass, insect fragments

Birch groves and meadows.. this iconic Russian landscape might be easily be found on the outskirts of Moscow if one travels far enough out of the city. In early spring, white trunks glow against the gray sky. Thin, fragile pieces of bark peel off, almost skinlike.


The idea for self-portrait was conceived in spring 2022 after the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine. The artist, residing in Russia, tries to adapt herself to the new state of broken national identity. Her appeal to nature as a silent witness of age-long human violence is an attempt to distance herself from painful human relations and to rethink the character of bonds to the place she lives in.


The artwork is process based, with rituals and tactile experience being vital elements. The final object - the mask itself - appears just as an artefact of a path traveled by the artist. The project involved four symbolic stages: collecting bark and grass, making of a face cast, lining the cast with the collected fragments, and removing the mask from the cast. Each of the stages bears its own metaphorical meaning and represents respectively belonging to, and losing oneself in a group, thus hitting the realization of constraints set by a group, claiming the responsibility for one’s own identity and final liberation from suppression by a group.




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