KUKUSHKA - PhMuseum

KUKUSHKA

Ira Thiessen

2019 - 2021

Should I live in the city or in the countryside?

Lie like a stone or twinkle like a star?

Like a star.

My sun, look at me,

My flat hand has turned into a fist,

And if there is gunpowder - open fire.

Look here...

Viktor Zoj

KUKUSHKA

The photo and spatial installation Kukushka shows collected objects that my family brought with them to Germany when they resettled from Russia. Thus, the work not only illustrates the rift between the old and the new homeland, but also shows that looking into the past often helps to open up to the future.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, thousands and thousands of people of German descent - so-called ethnic German repatriates - returned to the country of their expelled and fled ancestors. A step that initially meant separation: separation from their social environment, from friends and colleagues, but also separation from possessions, from houses, furniture and objects. The little that could be taken with them had a larger-than-life significance, as it was supposed to make it easier to cope with the loss of the old home and to settle into the new one. Thus, objects were often packed that had little economic or practical use. Things with which there was a special relationship, which created familiarity and reminded people of what they had left behind.

When my family left the dissolving Soviet Union in 1990, they were also faced with the question: What do we take with us? What should continue to play a role in our new life? The decision fell on many supposedly mundane objects that my parents packed in their suitcases when they immigrated to their new homeland: animal figures made of wood and porcelain, lots of crystal and clocks "Made in USSR". Cuckoo clocks, which were also very popular in Russia as a German export hit, and which thus already built a bridge from the old to the new homeland. It was not only because of this symbol that I chose "Kukushka", Russian for cuckoo clock, as the title for my work. I also thought of the song of the same name from my childhood by Viktor Zoj, which appeared shortly before our departure in 1990. For many Russian women and ethnic German immigrants, his music was and still is a symbol of their youth and the creeping collapse of the Soviet Union.

After the death of my grandmother in 2016, I began to research these personal items.

In the installation Kukushka, I also found documents, recipes, jewellery and photographs that had previously been stored in drawers and cellars. I have removed all the objects shown from their original state and restaged them in such a way that new levels of meaning open up. Personal and individual objects thus become a reflection of the collective memories of the Soviet era. Beyond mere nostalgia, Kukushka illustrates the openness to the new, which is always accompanied by doubt and concern. My photographs are accompanied by old Russian music that my parents often listened to in order to preserve the memories that have faded over the years.

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  • The swan, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 60 x 80 cm

  • Installation view, gold-plated record player, stool, original tapestry from the Soviet Union, red lacquered porcelain figures

  • Notes Archival material, family picture of great-grandparents,
    30 x 20 cm

  • Exhibition view at Elsa Kunst /& Raum May 2021, photographs, aluminium half frame, porcelain, May 2021

  • Red lacquered porcelain figures

  • Photographs, digital print
    Fine Art Baryta, 20 x 30 cm

  • The Clocks, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 60 x 80 cm

  • Gold-plated record player

  • Gold Lacquer on Russian Painting, Orthodox Church

  • The golden table, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 60 x 80 cm

  • The mythical creature, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 70 x 100 cm

  • Two knives, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 50 x 70 cm

  • Colourful mosaic stones, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 50 x 70 cm

  • The shining eagle, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 70 x 100 cm

  • me, Photography, Digital Fine Art Baryta, 20 x 30 cm

  • 2x notes Archival material, family picture of great-grandparents,
    30 x 20 cm


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