December 14 to January 4
There are many rituals surrounding the Russian banya. As I was told it is just the place to bathe, in villages that used to have no running water. But it is also a place and time to take care of yourself and others. Beating each other with moistened venniki, often bunches of birch leaves, makes your skin tingle and increases the heat. The wooden house in the village I stayed in had two banyas (and no running water). There was a white banya (po belomu) where the wood-stove has a chimney, and an old-fashioned black banya (po chornomu) without a chimney where the smoke settles in the room and the soot cleans your skin. The banya is also a place for foretelling the future. Sergei Kulikov, a historian I met recently, told me that the banya was traditionally seen as a profane, unclean place because of its pre-Christian, pagan associations with fortune-telling. I made this film together with the artists Albina Mokhryakov and Sofia Skidan.
The last person I cared about was my grand-mother.
The day she was sent to the hospice.
I did not care for her. I care about her.
How one can end up his/her life in such an impersonal place?
What brought an entire generation of humans to believe that was possible to erase olden days, older people, vulnerability?
I always wondered about what does it mean to be taken care of by strangers hands, when your life has been devoted to your family.
How could we do that to her?
I tried to help her escape.
I offered to stay with her at her place.
I was never heard.
And she complained to us: « I don’t want to stay here. How can you do that to me? You are my children?».
And I cried, silently.
And I feel ashamed.
I loved her.
Letter from Glasgow: Waltz no 2.
We used to play in pubs before the pandemic. Ten or twelve of us, some artists, a theatre worker, an academic, social worker and a psychologist. Now we are a touring band. We are quite in demand, at Care Homes and Hospital Departments, for ailments mental and physical. On Sunday we played our Christmas gig at the Neurological Rehabilitation Unit, at the biggest hospital in the city. The doors were opened wide on the small back garden and the sky above the helipad of the vast complex opposite was dense with rain that fell as a fine curtain and then more furiously as we played towards the distant figures in chairs and wheelchairs, looking out.
Photograph & Audio
Château aux Ciel (Castle in the Sky) Champtoceaux 49 France