The Malachite casket / 2022
The Ural Mountains stretch from the North to the South over many thousands of kilometres, dividing the two parts of the world — Europe and Asia. As an area situated “between two worlds” and inhabited by numerous indigenous folks, Ural was the birthplace of a rich mythology. The Soviet writer Pavel Bazhov, fascinated by Uralic folklore, became the author of the famous collection of Uralic tales where reality and fantasy are intertwined.
I travel around places where Pavel Bazhov’s tales took place and meet people who now live there. In fact, I am following the path of Bazhov — he travelled extensively across the Urals interacting with indigenous people. He was deeply interested in their lifestyle and stories passed down from generation to generation. By observing and talking to locals it is possible to explore those permanent archetypes that are part of any mythology. I would like to understand the changes of social landscape in this area and the continuing significance of tales and myths in modern life. A lot of characters in Pavel Bazhov’s tales had real and mythological prototypes. They are closely connected with specific geographical location, rooted in tales, mythology, and traditions. They stay faithful to their ancestral places, which give them support and fill them with strength. However, some heroes of Bazhov’s tales choose to wander and decide to leave their home bravely facing unavoidable obstacles and challenges.
The idea of this project is a result of my reflections on the importance of the bonds between a human, his or her motherland, traditions and their continuity. All this turned out to be directly connected to the current events happening in my country, Russia, which I had to leave. Being pulled away from my home ground and familiar environment, I have to reinvent my idea of home and my values.