In collaboration with the Samoe Bol’shoe Prostoe Chislo – The Largest Prime Number or SBP4 music band.
The project was dedicated to the memory of the First and Second Chechen Wars. The memories of witnesses and soldiers were gathered together and turned into a total installation at an abandoned military base near Moscow, Russia, where the video of the SBP4’s song was shot.
(you’re my everything – line from “1999” song)
We were interested on the relations between people in this project: a “small” inconspicuous person vs some global thing – a society, a government, a state, a homeland, a war. We wanted to show personal, subjective and unique stories of the people, and through the prism of each experience highlight the need of any war.
The project has two parts.
The first part is a compilation of the veterans of the First and Second Chechen Wars’ interviews. We asked the veterans’ relatives and close friends to be interviewers, collected 20 videos and used 17 of them.
The second part of the project is a total public installation at an abandoned military facility near Moscow (Kosterevo-1, Vladimirskyay region). The most striking quotes from the interviews were used carefully so that tearing them out of context wouldn’t twist their meaning. With volunteers consisting of our interviewers we transferred those quotes to the walls and various objects inside some buildings of the military facility. Thus, we turned this place into a total installation, semblance of a giant book with the people’s memories, and at the same time the representation of a collective portrait of a person who went to war. This project was not only aimed at remembering the important moments of the recent history of our country but also as an attempt to focus on trivial and eternal themes like patriotism, man at war, a soldier and an order, duty to the motherland, homeland and a government.
The exhibition of the project consisted of 7 parts: video and photo documentation of the inscriptions, the targets with three quotes, the printed transcripts of the interviews, audio recordings of the interviews, backstage photos and artifacts.
All interviews (in russian) you can find there:
“I dreamed about epaulets from the childhood”
“I always wanted to see what the war is”
“Then you’re 18 years old, you don’t afraid anything, you just don’t give a damn”
“Everything is Ok, I’ll be back soon”
“Motherland сommanded, and we went there”
“Obey the order, and only after that you can discuss about the order”
“You can’t discuss about the order from superiors, and you must do everything that you can to сarry out it”
“Your personality varnishing, in fact. You’re becoming one of the gears in this system. You don’t have any rights and should sacrifice your personal interests because of global, common benefit”
“Then the order is giving solder doesn’t know is it criminal or not”
“You can’t understand war if you don’t see it by your own”
“I got acquainted with this war directly with the corps”
“Fear – it’s a power of war. Fear – it’s a weakness of war. Fear is common for everyone and connecting everyone – both solders and generals”.
“Nobody talks about patriotism on the battlefront”
“Motherland is always right. It could be wrong. Only some generals and leaders could be wrong”
“Solder should know what he fighting for. If he doesn’t know – he fights poorly”
“Either somebody else”
“We fought for our homeland”
“And they fought for their homeland too”
“Someday people should understand that violence creating only more violence. Doesn’t matter what religion you prefer, everyone has only one life”
“War it’s a crime, always. And every command on the war is a crime too”
“Man who saw the war will hear and see it rest of his life. It’ll come to him in the dreams”
“Person doesn’t change on the war. War just uncovers that was hided. And it’s more easy for me – you can see instantly who is who”
“Today you talk with him, make some plans together. But tomorrow he’s gone. And this pain will be with you forever”.
“They took this 18-years old boy from his mother and sent him on the battlefront. And after that they returned him in closed metal coffin back. And nobody cares about it, neither our government or leaders, they don’t care that they sent him to his death. We with my captain apologized to his mother for that, not they. I, 18-years old guy too, had to explain to boy’s mother why he has gone, and I’m here. And I should live with it my whole life, and my brothers-in-arms should live with all this stuff. Not our leaders, not them.”
“I realised that if something will happen with me it doesn’t change anything in this huge world. You just go inside and think that you’re the center of the universe, but you’re not. You’re just a grain of sand, you’re nothing, nobody. Your death doesn’t affect on anything in with world”
“We must leave that happened. It’s already happened anyway”
“I fought for my mother, and for my motherland. I think that I did my duty, and did it well. I didn’t ask for anything. I just was there, and I consider that it was just cause”
“After this mission I don’t afraid nothing at all. Seriously, nothing in this life. Only one exception is loss of my relatives, that’s all”
“What is the homeland/motherland for me? It’s my hometown, this small piece of ground, not the whole country. And I’ll die for it”
“You look on everything in life easier after war. Much easier. Because you know that there is life and there is death, and in this scale man needs not so much for happiness. Just a single sip of water or piece of bread. Or just a crumpled cigarette that your friend was found and shared with you on the frontline. Or when everyone from your team came back safety from the mission. That’s some kind of happiness too”.
“Something will be forgotten. Something will never be forgotten”.