HIGH FIRE IN THE FOREST'S HEART
The events that took place in Russian Empire in the beginning of the 20th century has turned the course of history. Consequently to the two Revolutions an entire layer of the society became unwanted and the artefacts were burnt down as a sacrifice to the building of the new world. Some of the splinters of the old world, members of aristocratic families, remained alive beyond the borders.
In 2019 I started my work on Russian families' emigration in Italy after the 1917 Revolution when many aristocrats, soldiers and members of the intelligentsia fled the Bolshevik regime. All the people I photographed and interviewed are the descendants of the fled families. It feels like a tale of one family, almost all of them have a family bond with each other. Almost none of them speak Russian, some of them have been back to Russia fleetingly as tourists. There are very few memories narrated in the families, most people who fled didn’t want to speak about their experience. Therefore, the descendants are trying to reconstruct the old world through the scattered and often hidden memories of their anscestors.
Working with archival documents and diaries, I tried to breathe life into memories, staging pictures and recreating atmospheres inspired by the characters. The “white èmigrès” were the generation that were mostly associated with the feeling of “nostalghia” and I travelled to the places they chose to call home in Italy, seeing glimpses of familiar Russian landscapes in them.
Since I have moved to Italy almost a decade ago, several questions concerning my origins kept appearing in my mind: what is it to be Russian? What elements constitute a Russian person? Do I still identify myself as a Russian person and how?
The Russianness of the anti-revolutionaries has faded in their descendants and dissolved in other cultures, but looking through history allows us to feel echoes of the past in the present, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the future.