Out of Place
Out of Place (2017)
"Out of Place was made as a part of my research at the Royal College of Art. Through this project, I examine the phenomenon of national identity as found within Baltic Russian emigrants now living in the UK. Focusing on a network of Russian-speaking emigrants from Latvia, I establish an audio-visual archive of the objects and memorabilia brought with the emigrants as they move from Latvia to the UK.
"Out of Place is an archive of the stories about the objects brought by immigrants moving from Latvia to the UK. Ten participants were invited to contribute to the project by telling a story about the object of their own selection.
"The project looks at how an identity of place manifests itself through objects and people’s stories. It reveals a variety of ways in which migrants think of their place of origin, their new location and about themselves as such. Initially, I started this project as a collection of audio recordings, using oral history as a main method of my research. This allowed me to enable counter and private memories to enter into the cultural sphere to disrupt ground narratives and common uninformed perceptions. Later, I selected several stories to form a film.
"Adding another visual, cinematographic aspect to the initial audio recordings allowed me to highlight two places presented in the study —the place of origin and the place of memory. The first, the place of origin, was not visually present; it was narrated by voice and manifested itself only through memories evoked by the objects. The second, the place of residence, formed the present location, where the objects are currently displayed.
"Working with moving image allowed me to construct a detailed portrait of the second place by filming the environments of the respondents’ houses. The stories of participants were cross-cut to create a non-linear narrative that will draw attention to the multiplicity of truth rather than creating one ‘authority’ voice.
"The case studies provide a new methodological approach towards a study of a place by constructing an identity of a place through the narrated experiences of participants. A use of objects as prompts proved to be an effective tool to trigger conversations and memories."
Natalja Vikulina is an artist, and researcher, working across a variety of disciplines, merging ethnographic approach with artistic practices such as photography, installation and moving image. Her research addresses places as phenomena. Her practice explores how memory and identity are embedded in places and how artistic practices can contribute to the construction of identity of / with a place. She holds MPhil (Visual Communication) from the Royal College of Art and has been exhibited internationally in London, Riga, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, Basel and Samara. Natalja Vikulina is an active participant in art festivals and biennials, including London Design Festival (2016), Riga International Short film Festival (2016) and Shiryiavo Biennial of Contemporary Art (2018).