Saturday, April 26, 2014

"A Very Home Place"

Just before Easter, I’d been emailing with my friend Tania Kochubinska, who lives and works in Kyiv, about another matter and asked her to send me her family’s Easter pictures. She sent several, saying although her family isn’t particularly religious, they all go to a family house for Easter. So of course, I wanted to know more about the place and the experience. Here’s what Tania shared with me.

We are not a religious family, but the tradition of painting eggs and baking Easter-cake is really kept. And recipe of baking Easter-cake, which is still being used by us, comes from my great grandma. Notwithstanding that I never went to a church to bless the Easter-cake (I used to go the church with my grandmother, but it was not an occasion on a special religious feast) we keep on baking it and just having always a very solemn dinner on Easter. And of course the tradition of battling with painted eggs is also kept, since childhood it is the most impressive and performative aspect of Easter. These photographs in this post were made in the house of my great grandma, we often go there. Sadly my grandparents are not alive, but the house is kept, and we go there. My mother and my father go there more often than I do.

It is not a village. My great grandmother was born in a village not far from this place, but it is a small industrial (used to be industrial) town of Konotop. It is famous for its important railway junction (all roads to Moscow go through Konotop). It is also famous because Kazimir Malevich is said to have worked for two years in this town as a draughtsman and there is a water tower designed by Vladimir Shukhov. The city is located in the East of the country, in the region of Sumy. My grandmother and grandfather lived there, and my great grandmother lived in this house, which is located in a private housing area.

Coming back to Easter again, frankly speaking in my family the sacral sense of Easter is not kept, but it is just a very family feast for me. We always have a dinner with aspic, Easter cake, eggs, it is only time a year, when we eat so many eggs, it is because of battling with eggs. Each holds a painted egg and tries to break the egg of the opponent and to keep his/her egg safe. That means we have lots of eggs to eat!

This house is like a very home place. Of course it is different for me than my mother. She used to live in that house since she was around 14 years old. For me it is about childhood. When I was young there were a lot of children coming from different cities (mainly Kyiv and Kharkiv) to visit their grandparents. There are different fruit trees left, but it is not about special gardening there-- we have flowers, some salads, but it is not the goal to grow fruits and vegetables, it is more about the atmosphere. When I go there I often think that it is really nice to have a private house. Because you feel your own planet there, but at the same time you are disconnected from the world.