«Nyet That Type of Girl»
It’s impossible to have a sense of one’s self without some knowledge of how others view them. When these views are filtered through the distortion and simplifications of stereotypes, it becomes equally impossible for one to separate them from the real me.
I am Russian. Born in Moscow, my family fled to the dreamland of America in 1994 after the fall of communism. We landed in the small town of Starkville, Mississippi. Culture shocked? Yes. Stereotyped? Absolutely. Starkvillians maybe knew only five other Russian folks in that town.
The second I told someone I was from Russia, a trigger was pulled and the interrogation would ensue …
Are you a communist?
Is it always cold in Russia?
Do you only drink vodka?
Do you have bears as pets?
Are you a spy?
Are you in the Mafia?
In my self-portraits, I take what is real -myself- and distill it through the prism of what others have learned to think is true about Russians. Some are somewhat comical. Some are a little crude. Some are slightly offensive. None are totally true. Such are stereotypes.
Perhaps it is a misnomer to regard these as true self-portraits. But that is the point. Because of propaganda and cultural prejudices, I am an ‘other’ to some before I am simply my ‘self.’
Here’s one stereotype that I had growing up in Russia about Americans:
All Americans love McDonald’s and go to Disney World because it is the best place on Earth. (Funny enough- it was really thrilling to me as a child. It was a dreamland of burgers, french fries and Mickey Mouse.)
Maybe we will break the ice.
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, September 9th, 2017
EXHIBITION DATES: September 9 — October 21, 2017