So You Speak Russian? by Jules Slutsky
The immigrant experience has always been with me, since my family’s move to the US from Ukraine in the late 90s. I had been compelled to make a body of work that spoke about displacement and isolation from the perspective of a female immigrant.
Photographed over the course of five years in a small city in Western Ukraine the work explores my pursuit for home and identity. To my surprise my search took on a lens that of an observer and cataloguer. What had once been a home now became a site to extract specimens from; carefully arranged still-lifes of precious family memorabilia resembled altar tops. The once inhabitable rooms now sun damaged and broken, even portraits of family had all lost their closeness. The journey of photographing these places and people was often heartbreaking but it offered a catharsis that allowed me to move away from an identity that was no longer viable.
I chose the title as a nod toward the country’s political and cultural desecration, still reeling from the effects of Soviet-era rule. The country’s own identity is often skewed and under-looked, I am more than frequently confronted by people who simply cannot differentiate between the language or cultures of the two countries. Whether an allegory of a present condition or an attempt to re-frame the past, the work addresses our basic human need of belonging and ties to our land, which is at once a deeply personal journey and a universal struggle.
Jules Slutsky lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
To view more of Jules’ work, please visit her website.