Tales from Russia: Rediscovering My Homeland
Leaving Russia when I did, on the cusp of adolescence, has divided my life into two very distinct parts. Everything changed literally overnight. I swapped the palaces of Saint Petersburg for the perfect lawns of Middle America, and obsessive reading of the Russian classics for watching Full House. I changed from being an over-pampered child, to suddenly understanding more than my parents. Everything I knew was left behind and I became a new person, even changing my name to a more westernized version. When I go back to the former Soviet Union, much of my childhood comes to life again: the smells, the sounds, the angle of light, the way a train car rocks you to sleep on a long trip north. It’s as if I’m traveling not just to a different location but, to a different time, and to a version of myself I only vaguely remember. The vastness of the region is a draw as well. Threads of family connections, fairy tales and rumors pull me further and further in. I think I could spend my life focused just on this region and never get tired. Roger Ballen talks about going deeper into his own psyche for subject matter. For me going deeper into Russia amounts to doing the same thing – disappearing into my own head, my own invented memories, retelling forgotten stories through my photographs, looking for something I lost.