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“God is a Spirit, a light for the world”, “God is a word”, “and God is human”

Doukhobors

“I and Thou” series was created in 2014-2015 in Russia. It was made as a reaction on the segregation and split of society caused by political changes happening at that time in Russia and the world. I wanted to show Russia of my dream: free, open, without prejudices, out of ideologies, politics and stereotypes. For this project i was taking images of my close friends, uncovering their individualities and inner light through additional photograph of a stained glass that i was combining with portraits. Light exists within each human and photography as a medium working with light in this project is used as a tool that uncovers light through the attitude. Metaphor of a stained glass shows "shining people", where personality of each person in the project is shown through the color. I wanted to show compassion and perception free from imposed outer frames. I wanted to show something very simple and natural, relevant to all people, something we lose in modern society because of the segregation policy.

The work is inspired by thoughts on human nature by philosopher Martin Buber, as well as by pacifist worldview of Doukhobors, who believed that kindness and love are the manifestations of God in people. In Russia, where people are rarely help others, and are rarely compassionate, where conflicts and misunderstanding permanently occur, where people daily deal with aggression and hatred, but where also there is some sort of inescapable longing by Human, i thought it’s important to do such work that would remind that love and kindness for one’s neighbor makes us humans. But love to one’s neighbor is only possible if we are aware of our differences. This project is about mutual understanding and acceptance of others. We can only overcome the conflicts and discord if we are free from fear to be ourselves and aware of our true nature that are love and compassion.

It’s easy to love what is afar and unreachable, some sort of an ideal, it’s also easy to love all humanity or an idea of it, and at the same time to hate those who are near you here and now. This project is about empathy: we are all equal in out imperfection, finiteness and are similar in mistakes. But anyway the soul is alive in each of us, and caring, an ability to hear and accept others gives the glow of our inner sparks and provides the fullness of being that we call love. And only love is able to overcome any conflict, segregation, inequality and bring us to the true world and to the light that Photography has always been searching for.