10.02.2023 - 26.03.2023
Ruarts presents a solo exhibition by Natalia Smolyanskaya – a memory card based on the diaries of a Moscow schoolgirl, the artist’s mother. Although the starting point for the project was family history, the universal and topical nature of the works allow us to approach broader concepts common to all, such as love, security and vulnerability, loneliness and memories.

“Yesterday at school, and today, there was nothing interesting — an entry from 20 February 1940 in the diary of my mother, Moscow schoolgirl Lyalya Kupalova, who lived in the Ministry of Railways building at 22 Spiridonevsky Lane and went to school on Granatny Lane. The diaries are written in small, clear handwriting and describe almost every day from the summer of 1938 to 1945: the last grades of school, the beginning of the war, evacuation to Tashkent, the return, and of course all the twists and turns of personal relationships. There is nothing heroic and nothing significant in them, but for me these diaries are not only and not so much a nostalgic and dear memory, but also evidence of an attitude to life today, right now, which I would like to preserve and pass on," writes Natalia Smolyanskaya.

Diaries are probably the most accurate document of an era, despite the fact that they only tell us about the life of one particular person. The schoolgirl Lyalya, like her classmates, believed what was published in the newspapers and stated in the films of those years. She reflected on friendships, entrusting her doubts and feelings, her most direct and sincere experiences to the diary. The tragic events of the time were reflected through impressions and conversations with her friends and mother, those closest to her. Hence the theme of frustration or despair and the fragments in which teenagers speak of suicide and the pointlessness of life. What could not be expressed directly is relayed in the traits of that era. Fear and tension, yet at the same time youth, love and joy, emerge from the days and lines.

In this exposition the variety of media acts as a counterbalance to paper and ink. The relationship between text and form becomes important. Excerpts from the diary entries of the artist’s mother convey through the epoch signs of belonging and uniqueness, the authenticity of life as it is lived. To distance personal feelings from the diary reading, Natalia Smolyanskaya maps and introduces the vertical dimension of happiness/first, war/last, alongside the horizontal dimension of roads and trains, which occupy an important place in the entries. Scenes the viewer has never witnessed appear in spotlights on the walls. A crumpled note or the pen stroke on a notebook cover becomes a ticket to the past.

All the events are presented simultaneously in the exhibition, but the map breaks into fragments and linearity fails, making them equidistant. The artist sets the direction, but viewers can decide for themselves how to assemble the portrait of a Moscow schoolgirl from that time as one integral entity.

Exhibition curator: Dima Filippov

Powered by