Russian-born Kristina Varaksina moved to the United States in 2011 at the age of 29. In the past six years the artist has lived in many different homes, frequently travelling between San Francisco and New York. Like many of the globalised populus, despite working and being immersed within the social life of the state, the photographer still found the idea of being an “American” was far away; the sense of identity lost to the spaces in-between countries, fluctuating between the memories of the Soviet Union and the present-day influence of contemporary America. When returning to Russia, however, the artist states that: “Everything has changed and some aspects of the Russian mentality now feel completely foreign.”
Where do I belong? is inspired by this sense of detachment and isolation. Like many of Varaksina’s previous works, the compositions are highly sensitive towards human emotion, reflecting the feeling of being unable to co-exist with any particular landscape. The domestic settings contain the notion of both anonymity and despondency – although similar in their aesthetic, each room is based within a number of different cities, from Lyon and Berlin to Copenhagen and Brussels. The neutral, minimalist rooms are tainted by a sense of the familiar, yet ultimately evoke estrangement through the lack of cultural signposts. Each bedroom, living room or kitchen is devoid of life, with post-productive clouds providing a grey backdrop reflective of character’s inner psyche, whilst perpetuating the surreal aspect of fitting into subdued and uninviting environments.
Taken in strangers’ homes, each of the portraits reflects feelings of alienation and the desire to fit in, in some cases by literally trying to blend in with the environment. Making only minor alterations to the interiors, the artist tells a little story about each home, trying to imagine what life would be like living there.
Varaksina appeared in Issue 71 of Aesthetica magazine. For more information or to buy a copy: www.aestheticamagazine.com.
1. Kristina Varaksina, Copenhagen. From the series Where do I belong? Courtesy of the artist.