Olga Fedina: Fleeting Confrontments

NewEurasia publishes the works of the winners of the “Exit Permit” Visual Arts Awards of Central Asia, which was completed on July 14. More results are available on the contest website

NewEurasia publishes the works of the winners of the “Exit Permit” Visual Arts Awards of Central Asia, which was completed on July 14. More results are available on the contest website.

A 25-year-old photographer from Tashkent, Olga Fedina, became the winner of the nomination for the Video award. Her video “Not by Bread Alone” is an original art project; a “catalog” of people who fled their homeland. Olga told NewEurasia about her cognominal exhibition, the future of Tashkent and her own vision of the meaning of migration.

Olga about her exhibition and video-art “Not by Bread Alone”:

I made​​ this video work for the project “Not by Bread Alone” which was held as an exhibition in May 2013. This project is about migrants. This topic is very interesting to me: I live in Tashkent, I loveTashkent, and I have already seen seven waves of emigration. A lot of people close to me left. These are different waves: when you are 13, and everybody goes to Russia; when you are 17, and your friends go to Moscow or New York, or when you’re 22. You grow up, and people still leave.

Since childhood I remember conversations like – “Oh, there is no one left.” They said so 10 years ago, and still say, and someone is still going to leave. Once I went for a journey, and took the photos of the people who were born and raised in Tashkent; those for whom Tashkent is a seed, which cannot be ejected anymore.

Actually, this video is a collection ofportraits. My idea is that you can live next to a person for many years, and you will not need him at all – he is just there. “Hi, how are you?” – You meet him in the shop, or when you go to take out the trash. “Hi, how are you?” – When you say it, you look at the person, and your interaction takes only 30 seconds or 2 minutes. I wanted to capture the moment of an accidental fleeting confrontment of this meeting.

I wanted people to come to the exhibition room for this confrontment to happen. To make them see how the gone person looks like, what is reflected in his eyes. A photo is not enough for this purpose, I needed a video.

I took about 60 people in 6 cities; most of the photos were taken in Moscow, two in St. Petersburg, one in Baku, two in Tbilisi, the second one by accident. We came to the Uzbek restaurant in Tbilisi. The manager of the restaurant was a man from my school in my area; he left five years ago, and we met only by accident there.

Olga about her attitude to migration:

Previously, I refused to understand those who leave. I thought they are people who think that the grass is greener only in the neighbor’s garden. What they do not realize is how cool Tashkent is, and it is cool, of course, because of its people.

I said that I would not have left Tashkent until the city becomes a closed chapter for me. Actually, this moment, when the bell rang, and I felt that my condition had changed, happened two years ago when I realized that I want and I should leave.

When I was on a trip for three months I understood that living in Tashkent is very cool but you need to leave for half a year or three months. I saw many people who left and came back. For instance, people who had lived in France for thirty years, came back to Tashkent, and live in easy street.

There are some lovely things in Tashkent you stop noticing too often when you are under pressure of different factors. They are not associated with the policy; they are associated with the mentality and the way of life, with the temperament of the population. I have no problems, no one bothers me. But I feel that I would like to have more soul mates, I would like to have more like-minded people. They all ran away, and behold, I collected them in all the cities.I see some individuals who lack a wave to live and work in.

I had this funny idea, I said to everybody who had left: “Imagine what would happen if you come back to Tashkent for five years? I had a dream before the shooting of this video to make these 150-200 people, which I did not hesitate to list, take time and return for a certain period and do some cultural activity. What would happen? All of us are like heroes of the story of seven brothers and a broom. We are its sticks, and one by one we are easily broken.

Generally, migration is positive. How did humans populate the planet? I read that some people have a gene that is responsible for the craving for change of venue, to travel. It is sound that people migrate, it seems to me that those who seek to travel have greater chancesfor success and evolution.

Olga about the future

I believe that everything will be cool. I believe that there is no escaping for Tashkent. My video is a story about people inside the city. Tashkent was demolished, it was completely rebuilt, it has such karma. There is no escaping for Tashkent, even if it is re-broken and re-built. In Tashkent, everything will be fine, but in the same narrow way. Only for those who are looking, for those who are striving for something.

In Tashkent they love whining. You can lounge around for fifteen years and say – “I cannot”, and other people will do the projects. A plus of Tashkent is if you want something it is easier to live out a dream. Because if you are a photographer or a producer in Moscow, there are hundreds of people like you out there, but here is only you.

I think I will continue this project. I think I will be working on it till the end of my life and never throw Tashkent away from myself. I will always be a girl from Tashkent, wherever I live I will find people from Tashkent.

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