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Čyrvony Les

Artist Feature of Masha Svyatogor

Some time ago, I cut out a black-and-white portrait of a young woman from an old Soviet magazine dedicated to photography. The woman's head was covered with a polka-dot headscarf, from under which a thick braid peeked out. The woman depicted in the photo reminded me of Alyonushka, the heroine of Russian folk tales, an exceptionally positive female character who traditionally personified meekness, humility, sacrifice, hard work, and so on. This female image was also reflected in Soviet cinema, for example, in fairy-tale films of the late 1960s.

In this work, I deconstruct this ideal female image, putting it in the context of the current political background - Russia's military aggression, its colonial politics, unimaginable scale of violence and cruelty, etc.

Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine, which leads to humanitarian and environmental disasters, causes me to review many fixed constructs previously seen as solid, immutable, and monolithic, many seemingly "unshakable" authorities, ideals, images, and formulas, including "Russian culture".

The old world turned upside down, it was as if the skin was removed from it and turned the insides outwards, from which human lives continuously fall out, a lot of destroyed illusions, events and facts of history, disturbing prerequisites and warnings that we preferred not to notice, postpone, not to panic, not to exaggerate the danger.

In this series, I continue, as in my previous projects, to rethink and deconstruct Soviet imagery, manually creating new works from physical cut-outs of many photographs from Soviet print magazines.

My intention is to use the already existing material, which is a photo archive of the political, social, cultural, and everyday life of Soviet people, documented by Soviet photojournalists, and rework it in such a way as to reveal the numerous disparities, failures, cracks, inconsistencies, and paradoxes in the Soviet narrative.

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