Elena Kholkina

2019 - Ongoing

The modern world is totally separated from nature. Science replaced myths related to natural forces and harvest. The cult of progress almost pushed away remnants of transcendence from our consciousness. At the same time, the very origin of man is connected with myth.

In EVErgreen which is part of a larger long-term work, I analyze the system of images that exists in Russia, formed from traditional mythology. Not being religious I'm still interested in the idea of ​​a multilayered world. To the question “do other worlds, abodes of people, gods and spirits, exist” I say - “yes, as they are looked at by people with different cultural experiences.” In the modern world, original images and symbols constantly transform but continue to be and broadcast something. It is exciting to explore my personal connection to them. This project helps me understand where I'm from and where I'm going. And it lets me not be bored in a city full of laws. As a shaman in Mooseman videogame, I move between worlds through photography, learning more about myself and the world around me.

Slavic mythology is difficult to study due to lack of written sources. In EVErgreen I focused on a frog/toad’s traditional image. It turned out that it is a symbol very much connected with womanness and the female world - via giving birth, witchery, wisdom, knowledge, superpowers and ties with parallel worlds.

Another layer is the image of Eve escaping from paradise. Together these two female images coming from two very different traditional systems manifest new qualities of a contemporary woman, which must be heard and reinforced in state laws around the world. Freedom, equal rights, the right to control your own body, protection from violence and many other things have recently come to the surface and need the be addressed worldwide.



«A baba (a woman, in Russian) is like a toad».

Finds from an article by Baranov D. A., Madlevskaya E. L. "The image of the frog in embroidery and mythopoetic representations of the Eastern Slavs".

In the cultural traditions of different peoples, the frog is associated with the female image and is endowed with wisdom and sacred knowledge. The Russian tradition is no exception. In Russian embroidery, the frog is often depicted as an anthropomorphic sprawled figure, referring to the pose of a woman giving birth. In popular beliefs, all frogs are converted people. There are beliefs about the conversion of witches into special cow frogs that suck milk from cows. The human womb is the habitat of frogs. In the Russian North, a frog is swallowed at the initiation into witchcraft: "The sorcerer leads you to the bathhouse at dawn, it will jump out, the frog, it must be swallowed." The frog's omniscience and its connection with other worlds find a curious refraction in various genres of Russian folklore. The fairy tale, having the property of preserving in a transformed way the details of the archaic cultural and historical layer, allows you to once again see the non-random connection of the frog with the female world. In the tale "The Frog Princess", the heroine appears in the guise of this mythologized animal. Despite her ability to be a werewolf, her zoomorphic appearance is a temporary phenomenon: in the variants of the plot there is an indication of "involuntary" and the limits of the duration of the heroine's stay in the form of a frog (beginning: she was cursed by her mother, transformed by the magician Mukhomor, "Karachun made me like this"; and end: a feast at the king plus three days, six months). The last limit of the term indicates the connection of the zoomorphic appearance of the heroine with the change of her "socio-age" status. Before receiving new socio-age characteristics (wife, mother), the heroine must live in the skin of an animal, which can be qualified as "isolation", "temporary death", "static" in the ritual sphere, suggesting a change in the inner essence of the person through purification, acquisition of certain knowledge and, finally, rebirth and "movement"/"dynamic" in a new quality. Burning the skin ahead of time, respectively, increases the negative signs of the heroine - the frog Princess is at the mercy of dark forces. In the image of a frog, the heroine shows supernatural abilities of cosmic nature - creates ideal non-existent objects (the motif of non-man-made), transforms darkness into light through fire and lightning (connection with the elements), creates from chaos (leftovers mixed in the heroine's sleeves). The transition to a new quality (from immobility to movement) is realized in the motif of the dance/movement of the heroine's hands, which shows a connection with traditional ideas about the producing power of dance and ritual magical actions aimed at reproduction.

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