The Reticule

Saint-Petersburg

Russia

My grandmother Antonina had passed away a long time before I was born. Mom has kept her leather reticule with all its contents. I wanted to write a letter to my grandmother, to share with her what happened in the life of her relatives after her belongings sunk into oblivion at the bottom of the bag.

Hello, dear Tonya! We have never met, but now I’ve got to know you a little better. We are like waves running against each other, barely touching, and immediately disappearing in the ocean of time.
Your eldest daughter outlived the youngest and your great-grandson was born on the same day as you under the Antares star, on November 10. Your granddaughter, who you had cured of pneumonia with penicillin, became an artist.
You worked as a nurse. Doctors are currently working on the front line again, as back then, in the forties.
In the hospital where you used to work at almost all the places are now occupied, the lights are on all night in labs.
We wear masks and gloves and are afraid to touch each other. Our homes have become shelters, and walks and ordinary conversations have become a source of hazard.
A lot has changed over 50 years – we have learned to communicate with each other at the speed of light from anywhere in the world and to buy whatever we want without leaving the house.
However, we are very helpless when confronted with the forces of nature and diseases. Moreover, in 2020, the world is looking for a magic cure for a new dangerous virus, our “new penicillin”.
Can you tell me what it will be this time?
After all, all this already happened once, right?
Hugs,
Your granddaughter Xenia


My project is about interweaving the past and the present.

I reflected on how the memory of generations is formed, about the connection with objects, family legends, and archives. I was interested in coincidences and parallel events of the Past and Present. How they influence and complement each other. How the image of a person who does not exist is constructed in our consciousness.

I wanted to have time to touch the elusive past. Examine it carefully under a microscope.

Like an archaeologist, I carefully removed the cultural layer after layer, a year after year.

Scraps of phrases, random numbers, and artifacts from the past brought me back to the events of the present. This feeling pierced me.

Italo Svevo, referring to psychoanalysis, wrote that the present is affected only by that part of the past that is needed to either highlight this present or obscure it.

I saw a close interweaving of my grandmother’s life story with the present. The shadows of past searches will always stand nearby and guide us towards the light.

The memory of generations transfers experience to us and can direct us to the search for new solutions. As the face of a particular person is transformed within his family, information about generations and events of centuries is also changing. Stories correspond over and over again. It is in our power to see the value of this experience and stories, the evidence of which is everywhere – in every house, every subject.

The Reticule
My grandmother Antonina, my aunt Jane with my mom Ludmila, my sister Sveta and Me
My curly hair form childhood