“…When I indulge the whims of nostalgia,
And daydream bittersweet scenarios of what might have been…”
(Duane Michels, “The House I Once Called Home”, 2003)
Ekaterina Bourindin, Hadassa College- Photographic Communications graduate, is showing her first solo exhibition at Be’eri Gallery- “Scenes from a Memory”. Kate is exhibiting a well formed body of work, made out of large scaled photographs and a video-art, photographed and filmed in her Russian hometown, from which she emigrated to Israel with her parents as a child.
“When I was 10 years old my journey begun” she writes. “My parents decide to leave Russia and immigrate to Israel. I thought I remembered nothing frothe final moments in which I was asked to say goodbye to my family and friends and leave, no looking back, hoping for a better future. But there was a price to pay. Trying to belong, I had to discard my former identity and language… Today, with a mature and more accepting view of my life, I return to my hometown, Lipetsk, following the traces of the young child I left behind.”
Kate collects the pieces of her broken past in a highly esthetic cinematic production, putting together a puzzle made out of people, events, places and meanings. She photographed what was there then, and is still there now- her grandmother who stayed behind, landscapes, streets and houses, and tells the story of the imaginary that cannot be documented. The bright flashes of what her childhood was made up of manifest in story-like characters and places that could be herself or belong to her. She calles them “Adopted Memories”, prosthetic images replacing the memories that have no representation. A kindergarten, sheep and pig. They all flicker with childhood innocence, alienated at times, contemplative at others, in a land that cradles her presence but is also estranged. Her images hold a powerful illusion of reality, a soft longing to revive her daydreams, to be immersed completely in the playground of her childhood. So, if she tries hard enough, she can accomplish the impossible and fold space and time.
In simple words Kate’s story can be described as one of separating and merging. A core of loneliness lies at the heart of emigration. A disruptive trauma, resulting in an intolerable aloof and disoriented feeling. The loss of orientation is not only geographic, but also of the internal rhythm that before all of this was in harmony with the surroundings. Healing needs to be done, and it is a long, never-ending journey of rearranging the identity. Kate’s work does not derive from nostalgic indulgence, rather it is motivated by a therapeutic remapping her inner topography. Her photographs are not a representation of random events, removed from a coherent continuum. They relate to a traumatic experience, that by nature was flushed out as a whole from the ever flowing river of her personal history. Kate returns to Lipetsk to throw minute anchors, each image is a hook attached to the fluid fabric of time and space. Her memories are edited and arranged in a narrative, enabling the experience of immigration to be integrated into the broader context of her life. Her photographs are packed tightly inside their frames. Resembling little time capsules, or wormholes to parallel universes, they invite us to pass through their gates. The point of view on those strange worlds is fluid and unstable- simultaneously inside and outside a specific moment, since they are her personal memories, but they registered differently in her mind.
Kate’s video art, resembles at first sight still images frozen in their separation from time. Then it thaws and almost sighs with relief – there are the fluttering wings of a white butterfly, a bare chest breathes, eyes slowly blink. She resists the barred gates of her past as well as time that has come to a halt, and not only that of the photographic medium. Since now in her adulthood distance from “there”, from the place she came from, is measured not only in kilometers, but in days, months and years. Her work reveals a universal truth about the human condition. Our life is a continuous movement from childhood towards adulthood and old age. With passing time our past transforms in our awareness, morphing into a mysterious, inaccessible realm. In that sense all of us humans share the same fate- exiled from the land of our childhood.
Sofie Berzon MacKie, Exhibition Curator