Project

My Poor Little Room of Imagination: How to Survive amongst Soviet Decor

Minsk photographer Masha Svyatogor captured acquaintances and strangers and through her own lyrical perception showed how people search for themselves in a dull post-Soviet environment.

Masha Svyatogor Age 26

Belarusian photographer. Born and lives in Minsk. Studied Philology at Belarus State University. Does photography and digital collages.

My Poor Little Room of Imagination is several years worth of archives with portraits of friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. It is a folder with documents that don’t try to be objective, but in a way convey information about the way I live and the way people you see in the photographs live. All of it, or course, is seen through my own somewhat lyrical perception.

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I was guided by a sincere wish to capture people who surround me. It turns out we have a lot in common, this typically adolescent combination: a not very positive attitude to life, a sweet ecstasy from all the pleasures and hardships of our young age, melancholic infantilism, being unsettled and looking for our place and foundation in life. In the text that accompanies this series I write about my feelings and the things that bother me most: social maladjustment, constant restlessness and dissatisfaction, questions that I am sometimes unable to answer: “Who am I? What am I doing? Why?”

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There are also lengthy and unproductive lamentations about the chaos that we live in, about how we adjust to it and survive. When I say ‘survive’, I mean it literally, because personally I feel the strongest aversion to the surrounding aesthetics, the fruit it bears keeps traumatizing me and makes me feel an endless brutal resistance. On the other hand, I grew up in the residential district, I have lived here my whole life, in a typical Soviet apartment building, surrounded by the faceless and outdated forms of citywide development. My own visual culture has formed accordingly. I have been brought up by this environment. And accordingly, I cannot ignore this experience, cannot rip it out of my cultural memory. This code has imprinted in my conscience forever. Shabby post-Soviet decor, dull entourage, visual misery — I did not choose my background for the shoots strategically. It is just the way I live — and the way people I know live, too.

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Spending 1 1/2 years in the cultural, and in particular architectural, diversity of Krakow, I have hardly photographed the city. I guess that everything I am interested in is pretentiousness, bad taste, and disgrace. Everything I can find in my native city.

The name with its subtle metaphorical implication speaks for itself — a poor little corner for life, for inner life (probably also little, poor, and miserable) and imagination. This is the only comfort zone that I have and where I feel (although not entirely) like a free person.

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