I was born in a sunny provincial town near two seas – the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. My father is from Siberia he comes from a family of former convicts sent to penal colonies. My mother was born in Western Ukraine but her family fled to Crimean steppes when repressions started. My grandmother plowed the virgin soil, she grew grapevines and orchards on the sun-burned and salted through land, created a blossoming paradise.
I think that Siberia was my second motherland even though I have been there only once. My dad always told me stories about taiga before bedtime. Tales about impenetrable Siberian forests crystal-clear lakes and sullen people, about snowstorms and frost, snow piles and wild animals, about winters that last for nine months. Because of this I have grown up to love the people that I never met.
Annexation and war have divided us. Some chose to play accusers and attackers, some were left to play the victim's role, to wait and endure. Also, as a result we got a clear understanding of the fact that we are all very different, we are completely different. Even though we use the same language and we have so much in common – the horror of penal camps, prisons, poverty, treachery, wars and repressions.
In this action art my mission will be simply in making a space and embroidering a question mark after the word "patience."
I embroider with white thread. I do it calmly and in silence, I cope with my internal pain. White on white. This is traditional Ukrainian embroidery for clothes and towels used in special solemn occasions, this embroidery is the most complex and expensive. My white threads are not common ones - they glow in the dark. My question is barely noticeable during daytime, but at night it is the only thing that can be seen. It becomes white on black like the cold glow from fires and blasts.
Me and Mila are sitting on a black platform called architecton. It is a sort of an Absolute. It is like the Black Square painting by Malevich, the Russian-polish artist who lived and worked in Ukraine, Poland and Russia. But his "square" is like a bible for everyone. We want our "square" to become a platform for a dialogue, for questions and answers.
The main project of the Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale 2015 'The Practice of Contact'
Performance together with Maria Kulikovskaya (Ukraine)
I was born in Moscow. My parents are from Middle Asia where their families were exiled during the Stalinist purges. After the 1991 events in Dushanbe our whole family got scattered all over the world and all over Russia. I have blood of multiple ethnic groups flowing in my veins. My motherland is my family, our culture and traditions. Presently I live and study in London.
Ukraine has always been a place which I feel myself related to, I have a lot of relatives and friends there. The events of the past two years have divided us. I feel bitter when I see cultural and historical ties coming apart, how we slowly become alienated or even hostile to each other.
The war is a part of human history but it is inadmissible. Anywhere and at any time. Eastern Slavic peoples have common roots and common culture, common saints and common faith, common history. Occasionally it gets so much intertwined that it is impossible to separate and sometimes our paths lead into different directions.
Russian history has always had a place for feats, both the feats of arms and the feats of patience and humbleness. Exactly one thousand years ago, in 1015 the first Russian saints brothers Boris and Gleb were murdered. They humbly accepted death as they were heading from their family domains of Rostov and Murom to their brother Svyatopolk who reigned in Kiev. This was a feat of patience for the sake of love.
People are constantly creating their history and as before they continue to use their own blood in this creation. They leave unnoticed that someone is drinking their blood. The external and internal "leeches" are sucking on us and attempt to distract us from the most important things – peace and creation. Why do we tolerate them? Maybe the reason is that they are sucking out "bad blood."
We are not saints and a common person would find it difficult to accept death and to suppress his or hers aggression. Evil creates new evil. But everyone can show patience and wisdom. I am embroidering the word "patience." Everyone has own unique way of understanding it. I only want to relieve the compressing spring of hatred and aggression, accept and forgive.
Together with Masha we want to start a dialogue and we wait for it to continue. Women are better at being patient and forgiving, this is in their nature. Men only need to listen to they, lay down their weapons and return from the war.
We wrote two different statements about our joint performance. We perform together, but we had different thoughts.
Two artists, one from Russia and one from Ukraine sit opposite each other on a black podium. There is a long long-canvas shroud between them.
Mila embroiders by red crosses the word 'patience' and Maria embroiders a white on white glowing neon thread mark "?". There are leeches sucking blood on the back of both artists.