Malostovka: Tatsiana Tkachova’s Nostalgic Take on a Belarusian Village
Belarusian photographer Tatsiana Tkachova came to her native village and captured the changes that happened in the place where she was born and in herself.
Photographer from Minsk. Completed an online course at Fotografika, the Academy of Documentary Photography and Photojournalism in St. Petersburg (2005–2016).
— I came home for a week and stayed for almost two months. I feel calm and good at home, and I haven’t recently felt like this anywhere, this is a feeling from my childhood. I love this place, I know everything here. But things have gone somewhere and they are probably not coming back. And they probably shouldn’t.
I am not a part of this community anymore. I know everything here, but this is as if the place was telling me: “Look, you do not belong here, your time has passed.” I don’t feel comfortable coming to the local disco, Village Day, or even walking around. The age difference feels awkward. People my age have long started families and don’t go out anymore. One of my classmates died from cutaneous tuberculosis. When people meet me — on a bicycle, with a backpack, with holes in my leggings or shorts, taking pictures — they look at me as if I were in a spacesuit. I feel that the environment plays this game with me on purpose, tries me, and then starts helping me. Or maybe just leaves me be. And it seems I am not a stranger anymore.
Time folds into a piggy bank of memories inside me. I take the memories out carefully one by one, as if I were developing film. Just like in those times, I go to see the sunset at the lake. Near the lake is the graveyard, where grandma, grandpa, and my cousin Siargey are buried. I have never seen him. He lived four days.
Sky. The sky here is amazing. I remember this one time I was giving an interview on radio in the Netherlands. I was 13 or 14. The host asked me something about the Netherlands, and I said that I like it there very much, and that our countries were very similar. He was surprised and asked why. I said that we also have the beautiful sky and grass, just like they do. Everybody had a long laugh.
My freedom is finally back. Sometimes, your conscience prevents you from being liberated, but now everything is different. I would like to keep this feeling — just like then, when I was a teenager.
The space is something huge, and the time seems eternal. It’s us as people who age on the inside and on the outside. We become small, hunched, dependent on everything. I suddenly think that the time will come when my mom dies. And I will have to go on. I have never thought about it before. I am scared. I play back the time.
I go, and everything repeats itself. I finish leafing through the memories, but my journey is only half-done. In my thoughts, I go back to the place where I was born, nature, to the earth. And I feel free again.
Malostovka is Tatsiana Tkachova’s graduation project at Fotografika, the Academy of Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, curated by Oksana Yushko.