City of Home
Artist: Alina Kisina / Ukraine
I was born in Ukraine yet I always had a clear sense that I belonged somewhere else. 7 years ago I found what I was looking for in the UK and it has been my chosen home ever since. Going abroad meant adventure, excitement and the priceless opportunity to find my identity. We all want happiness in life and in order to find it I knew I had to answer the big question: who am I? The words “journey” and “path” are incredibly popular but what do they really mean? Then I accidently discovered photography, or rather was discovered by it – it felt like being born.
Despite my new identity, a certain connection or even bond with Kiev, the city of my birth, still remains. Perhaps it’s a reflection of a deep understanding of its inner life, something I will probably never achieve in the UK as I missed out on a huge number of cultural layers while growing up in Kiev. Equally the past 7 years brought dramatic political and social changes to Ukraine and it’s becoming less and less of the country I left. However, I feel I am still in a very privileged position that allows me to look from a distance at something I know so well from within, a position of a stranger in the familiar. As a place I know and sense Kiev helped me create a consumerism- and cultural cliché-free photographic space, where the location and period are not getting in the way of seeing beyond the surface.
When I initially revisited Kiev in 2006 through the very first photographs of what is now the City of Home I was not looking for a clear definition of the place and the people but turned inwards, establishing the poetics as my reaction against the shallowness of its new commodity culture, while equally looking to express a sense of belonging and care. Gradually this process made me realise that the series is as much about Kiev as it is about a city – about man-made nature and its beauty and greatness which I contemplated with respect. I was looking at it and it was looking back at me with its layers of meaning, yet clarity and pulse.
The work became a search for something more universal, a deeper meaning, a way of grasping, experiencing and expressing a wider intuitive perception or concept: simply put that the world as we know it cannot possibly be it. Through my photographs I am questioning the limitations of what we know about it and ourselves and am looking for visual exit points to other possibilities, another dimension, another reality, another way of thinking. After all, our beliefs and understandings are shaped by the time we are living in, which to me by definition implies that we will never have the “full picture”, whatever that is. Nonetheless, searching for it feels like discovering a secret inside a secret – frankly it feels ecstatic yet perfectly natural.