Artist statement. Natalya Reznik
It happened so, that in my childhood I got seriously ill and this influenced my whole life. I stayed in hospital for a long time and my life changed after that upside down. I was forbidden to run, jump, go to school, I had to lie in bed for long time, being home or at hospital. After that I was not able to play with my peers. I spent all the time with my family and especially with my grandmother and grandfather. They were in their late 70-s and they were deeply disappointed in life, like the majority of impoverished and displaced elderly people in postsoviet Russia. Also they had serious health problems and suffered a lot. But they did still believe in a good future. It gave them force to live and survive.
At that time I started to understand the problems of old people better. As for the problems of young people, I considered their problems stupid. Since then I feel more in common with elderly people, I understand them better, than the youth.
On the project Virtual acquaintances I worked in collaboration with my husband Denis Davydov. We focused on the research of the phenomenon of virtual acquaintances among elderly people. Over the period of shooting we lived in Prague (Czech Republic) and mainly took pictures of our compatriots. They were elderly people who have moved to Prague for the better life and job. At the same time they wanted to meet there their soul-mates. The stories of these people tell us about their failures and sufferings, whereas they still believe that the world will change when they meet the special person. During the making of the project I interviewed the participants in order to know who they wanted to meet. After that I painted the portraits of desired second-halfs on the displays of the PCs or TVs. I painted it by aniline colors on the positives (photopainting).
The project Needful things was inspired by a Stephen King’s novel “Needful things” (it was also done in collaboration with my husband). Things in the modern world have become a religion, relationships with things have substituted relationships with people. Our grandfathers and grandmothers listen to radio or watch TV, where tender voices of broadcasters tell them about new “miracle“ things. These things are said to save from senium, illnesses, they can bring back their health, youth and beauty. Elderly people spend their last money on new gadgets. Even if one particular thing does not help, people still believe that the next one they buy definitely will. Maybe it is because everybody needs somebody or something to love, everybody wants to believe.
In the story about Sanatorium I investigated the place called sanatorium Obuchovsky (near Yekaterinburg) in which dream is closely interwoven with reality. Hard-working middle-aged women, who go there for a rest, dream about meeting a prince and feeling like princesses, at least for a while. When I visited this sanatorium, I was excited about its strange architecture and weird atmosphere. I visited this sanatorium several times and had opportunities to communicate with people and to observe their longing for dream and love.
In the ongoing project about my granny called Aging I have scrutinized the life of my grandmother. Her name is Nadezda, she is 87 and she lives with my family. She feels disgust towards her changed physiology, infirm body and illnesses. She has desire to love and to be loved – and at the same time she feels being unworthy of it. She constantly feels being offended because she thinks that people have the laugh of her, because her weakness. Sometimes she says that she hates herself. This project is a kind of communication for us, because it is hard to communicate to her this time because she is almost blind and deaf. In spite of it, I understand her feelings very well. I often feel myself old. And in my pictures I try to talk about topics which are important for me too.