Journey From Pinsk

Magda Matwiejew’s Journey From Pinsk (2009) presents her audience with a collage of digital surrealism as fragmented and abstracted imagery is juxtaposed with personal experiences and family heritage.

This work conjures sensual images of nostalgia, romance and tradition. There is a confusion of time sequence as chronology is ignored, and thus, the film can be viewed as three merged and fragmented phases of: Childhood, adolescence and adulthood. A central guiding figure travels in a train carriage looking out the window at an ever-changing vista of events, symbols and environments; akin to an Egyptian hieroglyphic tableau in vibrant colour and motion. This figure is at once distanced, yet also at times engaged with the passing events. The train operates as metaphor for life. In this instance, Matwiejew and her mother’s dual histories are the focus. These mixed memories of family heritage are distilled in a moment with the employment of original black and white family photos positioned on the carriage table.

Matwiejew’s Journey From Pinsk highlights particular life experiences of her mother who grew up in the World War II war torn district of Pinsk, Russia (today within the borders of Belarus), that have, in turn, affected her own life. This work becomes, to some degree, intuitive, an unconscious accumulation of inherited images. Ghostly remnants of Russian imagery are signalled throughout the work in the use of traditional dresses, sleighs, and holy figures. A scene in a bleak snowed-in cemetery surrounded by black crows, cats and pained figures highlights the turmoil and devastation experienced during this time.

In contrast to these scenes of grief and hardship, there is an atmosphere of idealism, nostalgia and happiness suggested with the union of marriage in a utopic setting assisted by a soundtrack with lyrics sung by 1960’s singer Dotti Holmberg:

…Love is kindness, love is timeless, love is strange, love remains, passes on from age to age, holds its spell, it will never change…

Various forms of fauna inhabit a perfect and sumptuous natural setting with flamingoes, butterflies, frogs, dragonflies, swans and birds. This ideal garden of beauty and tranquility is further suggested with a pond of pink lily pads, green weepy willows and waterfalls that balance the shift in moods, imbuing a calming and re-assuring sensitivity. Love is presented as having the ability to heal and prevail.

There is a strong sentiment of love and loss throughout Matwiejew’s latest body of work as the personal and emotive dominate. Matwiejew’s fragmented processes and organic working techniques are the perfect milieu by which to facilitate fragmented memories such as these. Her practice is emblematic of a mixed media artist working in the digital realm. On a macro level Journey From Pinsk deals with growth and change reflected upon through the experiences of past generations.