The HARD. Paper, tracing paper, digital printing, cardboard, wood veneer, pyrography, gelatin silver printing. 13*17 cm. 144 p. (2020-2022) 

I grew up spending all the summer holidays in my grandmother’s country house near the river Ugra. Our village Ozerna in Kaluga region is a pretty wild place in the forest, without even a shop, once a week a car comes to sell people food and stuff. So when we became youngsters, me and my friends started to find adventures around.

We met some guys from the opposite settlement situated on another bank of the river and found out about the ford in the water: the way to the village nightclub with dancing, smoking, drinking was discovered. Summer is always a part of adolescence, when you try all the restricted things while being far from your parents.

Unconsciously I catched all the new impressions with my compact camera: first dance, first kiss, first hang-over. Until someone stole it from my backpack during changing our wet swim-suits after crossing the river. I was 13 and very frightened: a person among friends, as I was sure, did something bad to me so easily. Also I couldn’t tell the truth to parents to ask for their help: I thought they would punish me for not being responsible for the stuff they’d bought for me. 

20 years later I woke up with a very happy feeling inside: I had a dream where the film from the stolen camera was found and every frame in it was a piece of art. I didn’t want to accept the impossibility of such circumstances in reality, so I decided to “collect” the sequence from lost film— frame by frame.

It suddenly felt really clear like I had lost much more than a cheap device that night when I found myself all alone helpless and vulnerable for the first time. I deeply researched family photo and video archives from Ozerna to find something similar and catch the summer mood of different ages. I took new pictures walking along the same river again and again, reflecting on my feelings and memory. That’s how in the visual dialogue between the past and the present I captured the lost paradise of youth.

The HARD photo book by visual artist Olga Mikhalchuk. Olga Mikhalchuk, visual artist

The HARD photo book by visual artist Olga Mikhalchuk. Olga Mikhalchuk, visual artist