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Windows of Tolerance

Mixed media


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The project studies the phenomenon of barred window in the former Soviet territories. It started as a series of flaneires around the city of Almaty, former capital of Kazakh Soviet Republic. A growing collection of photographs revealed two characteristic features: abundance of barred windows and ornamentality and great variety of window grill patterns.


This phenomenon can be read as a form of manifestation of trauma in the lived space.

A window grill – the ubiquitous, ornamented man-made barrier – becomes an effective metaphor to address and try to deconstruct the dialectic of inside and outside, as well as the conflict between private and public, which is especially characteristic of post-Soviet states that in different times have gone through shocks of collectivization (1930-s) and privatization (1990-s).

Borrowing Derridean analogy of text and textile, I use embroidery as a way of reading the window grill and simultaneously (re-)writing it. At the same time, I use  embroidery  - repetitive piercing of fabric – as a method that mimics symptomology of trauma, which reveals itself in repetitive symptoms 'piercing' through the seeming wholeness of the conscious mind. In such way, embroidery becomes my gesture of mimetic mourning that helps to distance, to overcome the past.

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