BORDERS AND BEYOND - This photography project explores the experience of Russian-speaking immigrants as they adapt to life in Karlovy Vary. These are people who were born, raised, and professionally established in different cities and regions of the post-Soviet space, such as Sochi, Bila Tserkva, Lviv, Omsk, Ekibastuz, Korosten, and Kerch. Now, they find themselves living in the Czech Republic for various reasons.
Emigrating is tough, whether it's a choice, a necessity, or something that just happened. It means leaving behind your familiar social, historical, and language environment and trying to fit into a new culture and mindset. The big question is: how do people react to these changes, and what path do they choose to follow?
Adapting to new experiences and blending into a different culture is a big challenge. It's not a quick transition from your old life to your new one. What stands between these two stages is like a mental "fence" made up of fear of the unknown and old habits. Some people decide to overcome this fence - they learn a new language, mingle with locals, and find their place in work. Others prefer to build an even stronger fence around themselves, making it wider and higher, sticking with people from their own country and culture in their new home. And sometimes, people try to break down that fence and start fresh, disconnecting from their past and questioning their ties to their place of origin.
In Soviet and post-Soviet reality, the fence is a symbolic element, both literally and metaphorically. It represents the "Iron Curtain," the information and political border with the West. It also stands for the tall fences around homes, protecting personal property from prying eyes. Also, it's the barriers of excessive suspicion and distrust of the world, a result of historical experiences and the unconscious transmission of memories of times like dekulakization, denunciations, and repression.
For the author of this project, who was born in the USSR, grew up in Russia, and now lives in the United Kingdom, understanding her own limitations and how to overcome them in the context of emigration is a central question.