Who are you when no one seems to know your homeland and your native tongue is on the brink of disappearing? What influence do emigration and integration have on your cultural identity? And with what words do you shape who you are and where you’re from?
Natalia Papaeva (Russia, 1989) grew up in Buryatia, an autonomous republic in East-Siberia. Since 2013 she’s been working and living in the Netherlands though, where she graduated from the Haagse Koninklijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunst. In her raw and intense video performances she researches our relation to language and her cultural identity as ‘Buryat om utens’*.
In shop windows on several different locations in the city center of Leeuwarden VHDG presents her first solo exhibition. All video works on display are in the Buryat language, Papaeva’s native language. The language is one of 2600 languages that are about to go extinct. The physical distance to her homeland also influences her connection with her language and the area in which she was born.
In her video works and performances Papaeva gives voice to this cultural ‘erosion’ and explores what impact it has on one’s identity. In the award winning work Yokhor (2018) she undergoes the pain of the loss of her language and the audience will see her go through different emotional states, from calmth to hysteria. In Vacuum (2019), she also researches the language as a carrier of emotions and tries to exorcise her fears with the mantras her grandmother taught her long ago.
Especially for this exhibition Papaeva developed a new video work. In the summer of 2020 she stayed for four weeks in the Artist-in-Residence of VHDG, in the Haniahof in Leeuwarden. There she created a performance work in response to the racism she experienced because of her Asian appearance during the first wave of corona. In the work ‘I am…’ that will be performed live twice and will be shown at the entrance of the exhibition, she researches culturally determined, linguistic connotations and holds a mirror in a light though confronting manner before the audience.
Papaeva graduated in 2018 from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten of The Hague. With her graduationmovie Sanctuary she won both the department price of the KABK and the TENT Academy Award. In 2019 Papaeva was nominated by the Sybren Hellinga Kunstprijs. In 2020 she received the Werkbijdrage Jong Talent from the Mondriaan Fonds.
- Frisians call a Frisian living outside of Friesand a ‘Fries om utens’.
Designer campaign image: Niels Lunter
Writer public tect: Grytsje Klijnstra
Made possible by: Gemeente Leeuwarden, Mondriaan Fonds, BankGiro Loterij Fonds, Stichting Stokroos en WEJansenfonds.