In her own right, amongst her own people
Anna Nova Gallery is proud to present the latest project of Anatoly Belkin, “In her own right, amongst her own people”, in which a day in the life of a girl living amongst the bizarre swamp people’s civilisation (whose civilisation, as we know, first emerged during the “Gold from the Swamp” exhibit at the Hermitage) is depicted on two floors of the gallery’s exhibit space.
“It’s been nearly ten years since the “Swamp Gold” exhibit took place at the Hermitage, where the secretive swamp civilization was first encountered by human beings. Since that time, this population of small people split up. Some were so enamoured of the Hermitage that they decided to remain there; a small group made their way over to The Russian Museum, and neither hide nor hair has been seen of them to date; and the rest – instead of returning to their native forests – took up residence at a flat in the centre of St. Petersburg, where they soon resumed their enigmatic existence. I made a decision to pay them a visit… and was simply overwhelmed by what I found.
They greeted me in a standoffish way at first, but thank goodness, didn’t throw me out. I arrived at their place early one morning and didn’t leave until late at night. It was as if they were oblivious to me. A woman lived amongst them. She was young and charming, contemporary and well-educated. She seemed at once to be a woman in her own right amongst her own people. How they hooked up with one another, how they became friends, how long they’ve been living together – these questions hammered away at me, but I thought it best not to pursue them.
It just so happened that I had a camera with me, so I started shooting. Neither the midgets nor the woman paid the slightest attention to me, so in this sense the photos are totally unposed. On the contrary, to me they seem completely down-to-earth and documentary in nature. And that’s how this book came about, which depicts one day in the life of this motley group.
I don’t believe there’s a sequel to this story. I was simply very fortunate. By now they’ve no doubt moved on somewhere else. Only their vigilance has allowed them to survive as such an unusual and fragile community.”
The opening is on 9th October at 7 p.m.