A world through the eyes of Katerina Belkina
Katerina Belkina is a Russian contemporary pictoralist photographer and painter. She digitally manipulates many of her photographs to appear as paintings, and often uses herself as the model in her work. Born in Samara in the southeast of European Russia, she was brought up in a creative atmosphere by her mother, a visual artist. Her education as painter at the Art Academy and from 2000 at the school for Photography of Michael Musorin in Samara gave her the tools to visualize her ideas.
There is an average Russian city where the flight of time has stopped. Samara, my hometown is a racy city, which nevertheless seems faceless. From time to time, something is created there and something is destroyed. It is messy and full of contrasts, being simultaneously heavy and light, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly. It is the quintessence of the most common city in the world. It has everything and nothing. I get amazed and excited by such places. Women form the most brilliant representation of this place. Life in such a city is not comfortable for a woman, and she seeks to escape, but to escape you need a guarantee that you end up in a better place to live. The fact you are a woman grants you no pleasure and no future. You are constantly confronted with races, showing off and stress of competitions. A woman is supposed to keep level with men, she is a consumer, but at the same time, she is a commodity too. Under the pressure of society and especially of her own, she lives in a constant state of market competition for a place next to the man. Visually there are no men in this series. They dissolved in the surrounding atmosphere. Yet we feel their presence and influence at every turn. They show up clearly in the frozen architecture, ringing emptiness and condensed air. Underwear here serves as a symbol of our last protection. Every woman is supposed to exhibit herself as a commodity, but at the same time, she tries to maintain her dignity. This is a boundary between freedom and subjection.
When I was a child, a repetitive nightmare haunted my dreams. I roam the streets looking for my house and keep mistaking. All the houses seem almost identical, and my search threatens to last forever. No one is around. Only the emptiness. I am alone. “Empty spaces” focuses on a human being in search for a “cozy place” to call it home. In this fickle world, one doesn’t want to be a guest but to have a dwelling in the universe. In this quest a new type of people arises, who simultaneously loves and hates cities.
The city is an artificial matter combined with our living souls to incarnate an independent and extremely attractive entity. The bigger the city, the greater is its attraction. It is the powerful energy, artificial intelligence, but it is void without people. We feel the same emptiness in ourselves, and it requires filling. We try to fill it, but end up filling the space outside instead. In big cities, no matter what “great” things we’ve done and how brightly we “shine”, we sharply feel our helplessness and cold loneliness. Behind perpetual motion, we find emptiness again. Our achievements turn illusive, material wealth - imaginary. A vague suspicion arises that we do not belong in this place.