“Village Day” by Olya Ivanova
Olya Ivanova has been documenting a celebration of the Village Day in a remote settlement by Sukhona River in Vologda Oblast, Russia. Since 2 years she was driven by finding the real Russian character.
“The landscapes and places I saw were very picturesque and people I encountered – quite rough and distant. That’s why everything there seemed so real and natural to me: I really enjoyed it! I knocked on a door of complete strangers and they agreed somehow to host me. And it just happened like this: we moved fields together, baked cakes and babysitted. Only sometimes between those moments I was able to pull out my camera and take some pictures. That’s why I only got so little of them.
The most exciting happens here on the so called “Village Day”. Everyone who has moved to the cities for living is coming back to the village to celebrate together.
How can I explain it? The Village Day is a celebration of your small motherland and it’s a possibility to feel your roots. It is the second popular holiday here after the New Years celebrations. People start to collect money and prepare the fest far in advance. When the day finally comes, all people go to Doma Kultury (cultural houses) together, prepare a huge meal outside, organise little concerts and theatre, invite musicians and dance on the discotheque till the sunrise. What fascinates me the most is that people from such a closed community are ready to open for the public during the celebration; even if it occurs just only for a day.
I started the “Village Day” because I feel hypnotised with the eclecticism of a Russian soul. There are so many things which could be brought together: people believing in conspiracy theories about Bush and aliens; matriarchal families and respecting of a “strong hand”, Middle East-like taste of carpets and teas, pure love to leopard dresses, female power and male weakness… After all I just wanted to portray a Russian character in its various aspects with its irrationality and spirituality. But I keep asking myself if it is possible at all.”
Olya’s website is www.olyaivanova.com