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Harmony

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- MAY 2015. Gas station on the outskirts of the city

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- MAY 2015. Gas station on the outskirts of the city

Harmony, photo essay by Maria Babikova

 

The Harmony Series is a project deeply rooted in my personal history, started a year ago. The series are named after the school of rhythmic gymnastics “Harmony”, where i spent most of my childhood. It is in my hometown of Chelyabinsk, a distant place for me now, sprawling from the edges of the mineral rich Ural mountains.

These images for me show the space between body and memory. An image can be an act of looking which both unfold the present and extends escaped memories.

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- NOVEMBER 2015. Young gymnast is warming up for her last regional competition of the year

Young gymnast is warming up for her last regional competition of the year

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- MAY 2015. Forest outside of Chelyabinsk city. Nature in the area is highly contaminated due to heavy metal industry.However as a quick passer-by the imprints are barely visible

Forest outside of Chelyabinsk city. Nature in the area is highly contaminated due to heavy metal industry.However as a quick passer-by the imprints are barely visible

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- MAY 2015. Training day in preparation for big forthcoming competitions

Training day in preparation for big forthcoming competitions

 

The sport of rhythmic gymnastics with its nationalistic pride, beauty and painful reality is set against one of the most polluted and industrially brutal places in Russia, that to me still holds a powerful beauty. The long lost dreams of soviet scale, the loud, gaudy colors of the leotards,an alcoholic who barely acknowledges the camera with nothing more than an empty glance as he fixes his ancient VOLGA – all this holds tangible humanity and deep memories.
As it is usually seen by the spectator, rhythmic gymnastics is a harmonious blend of art and dance. The sport highly emphasizes femininity in girls, which is also inherent in Russian culture itself. The girl is being taught to sculpt her body, perfect her moves, be graceful in every moment, which can only be achieved with endless tedious repetition. From a very early age she becomes aware of her body and the hypnotizing effect it can have on the viewer.

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- JULY 2015. A resident of Chelyabinsk

A resident of Chelyabinsk

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- JULY 2015. The suburbs-Spalnyi Raion- of Chelyabinsk

The suburbs – Spalnyi Raion – of Chelyabinsk

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- JULY 2015. Coach during the training of young gymnasts.

Coach during the training of young gymnasts.

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- JULY 2015. Leotard made for competitions

Leotard made for competitions

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- JULY 2015. Young gymnast during her routine.

Young gymnast during her routine.

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- DECEMBER 2015. The plus of long and cold Siberian winters is that it covers all the industrial residue and dirt with a purest white layer of snow. Not for long though

The plus of long and cold Siberian winters is that it covers all the industrial residue and dirt with a purest white layer of snow. Not for long though

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- MAY 2015. On of the younger gymnasts during her performance

On of the younger gymnasts during her performance

CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA- FEBRUARY 2015. Young gymnast during training session

Young gymnast during training session

 

The city plays crucial role in the series. With limited resources and options Chelyabinsk can offer,this sport becomes almost a necessity, a way of social mobility for the young girls.The inherent grace and pain that belongs to gymnastics is juxtaposed with these harsh industrial landscapes, in an attempt to capture the fragile beauty of the place in present moment,constructed from the stain of memory it left behind. (Maria Babikova)

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One Response to Harmony

  1. Kienan Fitzpatrick 27 August 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Hi Maria, I really enjoyed relating your words to the images of Chelyabinsk that you have taken. The photos do show the harsh industrial setting, I get a sense of dampness & darkness associated with that, and with the heavy-metal contamination of the surrounding nature. Yet you show the colour, vibrance & energy that is created when we find a cause – perhaps that being the rhythmic gymnastics, something we can focus on to balance it all out. I think you show something that we can all relate to in our small parts of the world. Nice work, hope to see more in the future,
    Kienan.

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