One of the most difficult historical themes for reflection is the Stalin’s purges and their consequences. 18 million of people were convicted and directed to GULAG (the system of Soviet labour prisons and camps), including about 5 millions of political prisoners and about 1 million of people who were executed. Even now Stalin’s purges are very little spoken about. Ill-considered past will live in our children.
In the project OVER-COMING I reconstruct the present and take a step towards consideration of the issue. I refer to historical documents — letters of the former prisoner; to modern glossy magazines — in search of visual traces of internal lack of freedom; as well as to the family archive — photos of my children.
Photos of children are covered with a translucent fabric that makes them difficult to view — just as the ill-considered past makes it difficult for young people to develop in the spirit of personal freedom.
A step, another step…
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My great-grandfather, Debolsky Diodor Dmitrievich (1892-1963), served his second political term from 1949 to 1955 in Dubravlag labour camp (Mordovia). He was rehabilitated in 1956. Afterwards, he held correspondence with some of his campmates. Their letters to my great-grandfather were preserved thanks to Nina Sergeevna Debolskaya, the niece, friend and secretary of Diodor Dmitrievich.
One of the correspondents, V.S. Sushchinsky, wrote 19 letters to Diodor Dmitrievich. In 8 of them he writes about rehabilitation: he asks to whom he should write about it; he tries to understand whether he needs it; he congratulates my great-grandfather on his rehabilitation; he admits that he has already been refused once; he writes about the negative attitude towards him in his family; he justifies his own inaction and still hopes in the depths of the soul.
He still wrote a second application for his rehabilitation, but did not live to see the answer.
The project is being demonstrated at the festival of contemporary art «Art-Subject» (Vladimir, Russia, 2018)