Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Exhibitions Diary, Part III

Name: "Meie" (We)
Made by: Eva Sepping & Tanja Muravskaja
Material: video
Place: Draakoni Galerii, Tallinn
The main idea of the exhibition is "the human's need of belonging to the native land". Two sides of national identity: 1) antagonism and violence against "others" of another nationlity; 2) unifying space to tie absolutely different people.

That topic is very close to me, as I am of no nationality. Technically, I have Estonian and EU citizenship, theoretically, I am Russian by my parents (and grand parents, and great-grand parents, and other relatives). In fact I am nothing of those. May be this situation is not so desperate and many Russians in Estonia, Africans in France, Chinese in Japan are satisfied both with their nation and country. However, I know exactly that I am not alone that lost among proper citizens.

It suffice to watch Eva Sepping's video "The Land of promise" where a Russian boy with Estonian origin talks that he doesn't feel being Russian. Despite that it is the only country he had lived in. He doesn't know Estonian, he hasn't been there, he only read books and listens to his grandmother singing Estonian songs. And he claims that he is an Estonian. Why? It reminds me the Jews who live around the world and suddenly decide to go to their historical homeland because it is right thing to do. How many of them had felt they belonged here? I don't think that every of them felt an urge to return to the roots; since 1950-ties it was mostly an escapism... They escaped to the Land of Promise from the consequences of the war, from the atrocities of the soviet regime and further reconstruction, from being "another"...So did the boy. He has his reasons for wanting to live his place: bullying, social rejection (chuhonskaja morda), educational issues - it seemed that Estonia is heaven of a country. Naive.
So, that boy comes to Estonia to study medicine, learns the language, has lots of Estonian friends, and what he says - "I am Russian here". The story of my life! Native Estonians perceive him as Russian and he is not the one anymore for the Russians themselves (he tends to change his last name). One good phrase there has been told: "There are morons of every nationality". That boy who has come to Estonia with pink dreams of ideal world, who has met almost the same problems of national identity in there, he finally understood that the Land of Promise is where you want it to be, despite all its mistakes and unfulfilled expectations.
Another video is about estonian military parade and russian parades in memoria. Another corner stone is where to go. If you are Estonian, go enjoy your Sini-Must-Valge and listen to the president. If you re Russian, take "БеСиК" and march for the sake of the Bronze Soldier. Anyway, you should choose. In the sense of your nation: if you put up many hares, you kill none.
But there is something Eve Sepping has forgotten: those Russians who was born in Estonia (once we are here). I know a girl born of Estonian father (so she has and Estonian citizenship), but she tells she is Russian. And here, she is Russian because of the accent and first name, though in Russia she is Estonian because she speaks another way than the Russians do.
We are that lost generation, because we have no place on the map for estonian russians. Many of us were raised as Russians while we were told we are Estonians. Russian literature, TV, the way of education and thinking mixed up with occasional splashes of national holidays, still strange for us.
I am confused when I have two Christmas celebrations and don't know exactly when the Easter starts.
I am confused when I am asked what my nationality is.
I am confused and I have no choice, because no matter what I choose, I will still be wrong.

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