TO GROW FROM THE GRASS I LOVE
Installation, video, letters, photographs, garden tools, jar of grandmother’s honeysuckle jam
I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass
For numerous years dacha and a vegetable garden shaped the life of my family. There was a period when our subsistence directly depended on the spot of land and therefore the world was spinning around it. This piece of land was a place of continuous and diligent work for each generation of my father’s and mother’s family. After my parents divorced, mother took me and my sister from Kazakhstan to Russia. Aftermath the only thing that connected our separated family was this close bond with the soil. It was the only ritual that united us. While I was watering vegetable beds in a small town in the Urals, my grandmother sent letters where she was describing her labor on our family land in Kazakhstan. I read about tomatoes ripening in her greenhouses and the amount of beetroot grown during the season or how many cans of compote she had brewed during the harvest time.
When I was beginning a multi-day experiment on growing a living substance (vegetables and flowers) through obviously inanimate one (once captured family photos on our land), I was resurrecting a ritual of soil maintenance which vanished following the death of my father, both grandmothers and after selling of the garden plots. Initially it seemed that this experience would remain open-ended. I did not know what was going to win, either the shots or the plants.
Although, everything was defeated by the soil.
The ground subdued the seedlings that were transferred to their natural habitat.
The ground swallowed the photographs. It did not erase but nullified them. In the same way it buries in oblivion all the rest.
However, we are the ones who fulfill the land with commemoration. Even though it may seem that our connection with it was lost.