First we meet Daniil Bulichev and Natalia Lazareva. They are very determined about doing a project together, separately from the group, just the two of them. They describe that he has so many ideas and thoughts, which she always translates into art.
As we ask what HER own feelings and thoughts are, she admits that she is quite unsure but likes to work with HIS thoughts. Upon me asking, they proudly state that they have been together for thirteen years! First I ask them what thoughts and ideas crossed their minds during my talk and he tells us about his struggle of finding a balance between his professional identity in society and his personal one and that he would like to make a project about the society’s influence on the individual. He then continues describing a tree, which is dressed like a man with a hat and suit growing out of a ground consisting of magazine pages. The tree bears fruits, which are again made of magazine pages. As Masha asks if this tree-person could also be female, he declines immediately, NO! Only a man! This seems just like a project for him and she would just be the executer. We were however hoping for each student to find his or her own voice so we suggest that, if she has this special talent of translating people’s thoughts into art, she could use this for a separate project in which she sat on a public square to translate stories and thoughts of people passing by into art. He immediately protests that she draws way too slowly!! As we realize how steadfast he is to have her work together with him and that she would not disagree with him, we suggest that we continue this conversation the next day to see how the group reacts.
Later in the group they introduce their project to everybody. As the group asks where they themselves would be during the display of this installation in the streets, he says very far away! While she corrects somewhere near by. I ask what would be the personal aspect of such a project and he explained that this project describing an average citizen, it would automatically describe him as well. The group and also Masha and I struggle with them because they are so withdrawn. Eager to do something but absolutely not interested in any input from anyone, determined to do something without really wanting to question it. Then, as he wants to introduce two more ideas, but time has advanced so much already, I suggest that we move on for now and give other people a chance to talk about their idea. The rest of the evening they are completely withdrawn, in fact he pulls out some red pieces of rope he had in his pocked and starts playing with them. As he sees that her attention in not on him but on the discussion going on in the room, he asks her to photograph his tricks he does with the strings borrowing MY camera and eventually they suddenly both just get up and leave without saying goodbye. I feel very challenged by them, I admit! And I do not really expect them back, as he seemed so fixated on his idea completely not interested in the rest of the group.
But, to my amazement the next day, in the middle of the evening, as we are all very well advanced in our conversations about each student’s project, Daniil and Natalia appear, sit down and for a while even participate in the conversation. Some discussions are extremely painstaking and time is ticking and I really want to move on to get a chance to talk to Daniil and Natalia. But then, again, without any announcement, they both get up and want to leave. I tell them that group work does not work like that, that if they have a specific reason for leaving, they need to inform the group, that is to say, if they want to be treated like a part of it and also, they should give the group a chance to have some part in their process as this is how this workshop is supposed to work; I am interested in creating an exchange and eventually a network for all of them, a support group to continue later on. The only aspect, which the group could contribute, Daniil suggests, is to bring as may magazines as possible to the center, so they can create their installation. I am very unhappy about that thought, but as they just walk out, I have to just let it go.
On the next day, many group members come in logging bags of magazines around, unfortunately in vain, as Daniil and Natalia never return. For me, this is a bit frustrating and I wonder what I should have done differently to bring them into the circle. In my mind they are still here and I am struggling.