Canyon diary

Ekaterina Vasilyeva

2018 - Ongoing


The project work began in December 2018 after an unplanned stay in the village of Dinamo (Leningrad Region) to restore health after an oncological surgical operation (walking in the fresh air and all that) of a person close to me. In one of these first walks we occasionally ''discovered'' that very close from our house is situated a unique geological monument of nature — a canyon, whose shores turned out to be heavily «cultivated» by garages and small garden houses, littered and partially overgrown with dangerous hogweed. Its depth reaches 20 meters at some places and it apparently appeared about 10 thousand years ago when the ''Swedish'' glacier retreated from Central Europe.

A person often is associated with some place that becomes for him the subject of personal mythologising and artistic embodiment. In my case the canyon became a ''mirror'' of my reflections at the collision with the disease and its metaphor. I was experiencing the space which in my imagination was also ''suffering and tormenting". The only difference is that the human «violence» over the canyon took place an instant in the relation to time during which it existed, unlike a person whose life is so small on Earth.

But besides symbolic wounds and ulcers on its ''body'' I also saw signs of life in this territory. I met both real and even exotic animals, as well as human toys, which naturally fit into the habitat along with trilobites buried millions of years ago in rocks of the canyon (extinct Paleozoic crustaceans). The ancient layers, in which these extinct animals were placed, today are completely exposed to the human eye.

I decided to explore the area throughout the different seasons of the year and organised in the apartment a sort of «headquarter» to study and understand the things that worried me. Some objects in a way referring to the canyon were strangely found in the apartment already. It remained only to photograph them. I also included my desk tear-off calendar of Symbols in the project, which emphasised my idea of a diary in my opinion.

If you look at the history of European culture, then Romanticism returned our attention to nature and realised a person as its natural part according to the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The important point is that we begin to look for models in nature for our own behaviour and solving some personal problems and not only try to keep nature in the reserves as something that we can admire only from a distance … Or, as in this case, the only decrees and edicts are written without any connection with reality.

I really like the term ''resilience'' - the ability to adapt to a changing situation. Both plants and animals possess this ability to a high degree. It would be very nice if the humans could do the same in the future.

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