Water, Water, Cleanse Your Daughter

by Karyna Aslanova

It is painful for me to look at these photos now, not the images themselves but what is around them and behind them. It was a hard summer. All my nightmares came true because I was losing my mother. We were fighting, we were hopeful, but the fear to lose her was unbearable. I kept it ‘cool’ around her but when I was away I couldn’t hold it, and that experience has absolutely manifested in my photography.

A portrait is always a self-portrait in some way. There is never only the subject, but what the artist reflects upon the subject also. At that time I wanted to disappear, dissolve, melt in the water. A dying Ophelia. A state of mind I allowed to seep into my portraiture. A blissful state after the agony of life. An insane desire for release, purification, and the return to the mother universe, the water, the unconscious.

Because when you are in those dark places, doesn’t everything take on a parallel meaning? And what is more dualistic than water? It is not only life, birth, newness, the beginning, but also endlessness, darkness, loss, death, the abyss. A mother, but an unforgiving mother.

Uniting with the women I photographed helped a lot. They felt me, I felt them. An exchange deeper and more meaningful than TFP. There was always a mutual understanding, together bearing the load, and in that we were both in front of and behind the camera, on the shore and under the waves, in the photos and around them and behind them.

And what better medium than photography to capture both this woman and the water around her. The power and grace of both, the ethereality and relentlessness of both, and their potential for both creation and destruction, instantly captured, impossibly still, with a flash of light, captured in their own reality, their own dimension, where time is stopped, and seemingly will never flow again.

To stop the flowing of the river, to silence the wind, to stop petals falling from the flowers. Stopped where there is no life, but there is no death either, no end. This beauty is eternal, as are those feelings of that hard summer, which exist not within the boundaries of the photos, but around them and behind them.

About the author:

Karyna Aslanova is a Kyiv-born Ukrainian multimedia artist, director, and photographer. Karyna studied Theatre Directing at The National Academy of Government Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine and although photography is her principle medium, Karyna also uses video, painting and illustration, and poetry to further her exploration into a multitude of subjects. Karyna’s art photography projects often use other-worldly imagery to reflect modern social issues, with a vague but familiar base note perceptible through a haze of the strange and incongruous.

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