Copyright © 2023 Marfa Vasilieva. All rights reserved.
How do we experience a common sense of loss, happiness or hope? What does it mean to go on a journey through the shades of the human soul, in synchronicity with others, and come back with treasure? A type of personal treasure that is intangible yet shared with others in a deep and profound way.
That shimmer of light that leads to a mystical and healing transformation of one’s core. Kiev, Ukraine, 2019. 63 Ukrainian women of different ages and body types come together in one space. Exposed in their nudity but cloaked with a thin layer of flour to symbolize a blank page. This is their first encounter. Fragile and burdened with the insecurity of appearance. This drifts at the surface but on the inside a story that needs to be shared. Without words. In their first moments the women feel lonely and lost in the crowd. A battle of fear, belief, doubt and fragility. Pain prevails until the women recognize their own insecurities in others. This is not a battle they fight alone. A shared sense of loss gives birth to a sense of support. The collective mind opens with empathy, a hidden power at the core of our human connection. We might not always know how to be friends but there is always something that binds us. We all go through similar stages; our first breath, first steps, first love, first kiss, first challenges all leading to joy or despair. We all want to be heard, recognized and loved. We want to belong. We belong together.
Breaking fragility is dedicated to all the women that are alive and breathing and for those that will come into our world until the end of time. It is dedicated to those who gave us life and showed us love. It is dedicated to our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and the entire female lineage that with its roots touch the spirit of infinity and love. When I made this series in 2019 none of us anticipated what would happen in 2022 and we are now confronted with the fragility of life and peace.
The project, even though unintended, acted as a therapy for many of the participating women. An afternoon fuelled by empathy, music and outburst had a profound healing effect. I asked the women to express their felt pain though the body by means of screaming and moaning. This was followed by the introduction of calm and tender music. Anastasia (videographer) asked the women to look around in search of someone in need of comforting and support. What once were strangers now turned into compassionate souls hugging one another. I witnessed a mystifying energy of lightness and mutual acceptance healing pain and breaking through fragility. The white flour being erased from the women’s faces by their tears drew me back in time.
It is 2017 and I’m at a temple in Tokyo, Japan. Here stands a stone cup with an inscription I can’t read but a vision arises in my mind – “Here your soul will be cleansed by tears.”
I asked 93 women (63 of them ended up at the photo- and video-shoot) two questions before shooting.
1. Why is this project important to you?
2. What does the expression “Woman to Woman“ means to you (please write one word)?
Friend, Sensuality, Support (27 times), Girlfriend, Communication, the Way, Unity, Need, Beginning, Native, Inspiration, Norm, Mama, Mutual Exchange, Beauty, Trust, Ally, Human, Understanding, Tenderness, Disclosure, Honesty, Community, Wisdom Exchange, Soul, Initiation, Example, Diffusion, Heat, Motivator, Love, Jug, Association, Union, Sister, Caring, Source, Involvement, Mirror, Frankness, Joy, Universe, Stream, Open door, Acceptance, Proximity, Solidarity, Strength.