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Anna Kovalevska

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Artist Statement

Vintage cameras and expired film are my guides into the world of forgotten memories. I choose to go there, consciously and with a clear intent of 'letting the ghosts go' by capturing, processing and expressing the pain that is ready to be released. It is done through collaboration with the environment, the medium and also my own psyche.

The project Re-tracing Steps is an attempt to visualise the untold stories of my ancestors, which are affecting my thoughts, actions, motivations and unconscious responses every day. To achieve this, I went on a journey, following intuitive personal improvised maps and reading from physical objects, responding with a click on my camera.

The first location was in Poland, with pointers like an odd sculpture or a specific style of dance in the local park leading me to discovery of WWII Nazi school and a mass Holocaust grave behind it.

Vintage stamps from 1966, found in an unopened envelope in a charity shop, were the locations I visited and photographed in Berlin, Germany, expanding a theme of division and conflict further.

With age, the physical properties of film change: reproducible colours, grain, sensitivity become unpredictable. To me this is like the invisible memories which have been modified by every generation they went through.

Sense of belonging, presence and continuation associated with ancestral memories hugely impact our sense of identity and the relationships we form with each other. Sometimes painful memories are like ghosts, there is a sense of terror and also a strange comfort to them... 'Letting the ghosts go' doesn't mean forgetting or denying the negative parts of history. It means allowing the grass to grow... the flowers to blossom around a mass grave.

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