(Prints size 80x102 cm)
Although research suggests that the vast majority of people are more or less inclined to confluence, I know from myself that no matter how many beautiful and understandable words I write here, the vast majority of people who read them will not find themselves here. It requires the courage to admit our own imperfections. As practice shows, it is much easier and simpler for a person to die young, but perfect, for some kind of perfection. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
Many literary works are ahead of their time and become prophetic. For example, “Blue Fat” by Vladimir Sorokin. I am sure that now it will be much easier and simpler to wade through its bloody and fecal jungle than two years ago. I could never imagine that not the “Yellow Arrow”, but “Lomtevoz” would become a metaphor for what is now rushing to nowhere along the rails of history. At the end of the novel there is a scene where Stalin’s brain grows to the scale of a planet, solar system, universe, after which it collapses into a black hole. When in November 2016, a man who looked like Putin, standing on stage and looking into the eyes of TV viewers, said to 9-year-old schoolboy Miroslav: “Russia’s borders do not end anywhere,” he was not joking or disingenuous. Because Putin doesn't end anywhere.
The Secret of Matryoshka (4K, 11 min. 7 sec.)
The term "Confluence" comes from Gestalt therapy. In simple words, this is when a person, due to unsatisfied needs or unfinished stages of development in early childhood, behaves in relationships with people as an infant does: erases boundaries with another person or group of people, or even with all people. Acts as if a loved one or a group of people is his extension without own personality, desires and needs. As if the whole world is a mother who owes him by the fact of birth and must fulfill all desires and satisfy all needs. As a rule, there are two strategies: a helpless baby in the womb, who is nurtured and nursed, or yelling, capricious and persistently demanding attention. In such relationships, the individual draws everyone into his inner “Russian World”, tries to subjugate them and use them, to impose his vision of the world and his judgments about what it should be. Pathological confluence never occurs at the will of one person. All participants of this relationships unconsciously but voluntarily agree to give up their freedom. But then, they will demand payment for this - they sacrifice themselves so that the absorber satisfies their desires and needs, which they themselves, for some reason, do not allow themselves to satisfy. In confluence there is no place for a separate I, He, She or They, there is only “We”: “We pooped”, “We want to eat!”, “We decided...” There can be no differences, boundaries and dissent in it: people in confluence must think the same and want the same. This is a world of fear and anger: in which everyone involved blames and punishes themselves and each other, but is desperately afraid of being rejected and abandoned. Therefore, “If not Putin, then who?”
Coincidence or not, the nesting doll quite accurately conveys what is happening in reality. The smallest of them is usually depicted as a baby, it is also called the “soul” (the word “psyche” comes from the Greek “soul”). The baby is precisely that part of the psyche that, having subjugated the entire matryoshka doll, now controls its desires, life and death. The world she treats as a substance from which she will cut out a larger copy of herself, but this world will not last long. She always needs more. Her trauma cannot achieve satisfaction.
Adults do not treat people and the world as a log from which they can cut their own “Pinocchio”; they do not try to rape it out. They explore the world (and themselves in it), negotiate with others, respect personal boundaries and agreements and accept refusals. When they hear “no” or the reluctance of others to enter into or maintain relationships with them, their world does not collapse into: “I’m bad” and “they don’t like me” or to the projection: “they are bad, I’m good” (“Nazis”, “traitors” or Ukrainian "zrada"). But most importantly, adults behave this way not because they need to be “good” for themselves and others, but because these are their personal values, this is their conscious choice, which they came to after overcoming their traumas and accepting full responsibility for themselves and the surrounding reality.
It doesn’t really matter what ideas we fill our own “Russian World” with: Buddhist, Christian, scientific: it may contain any mutually exclusive fantasies. Thousands of people can play roles in it, or just friends, colleagues, family and friends. The important thing is that we are losing the real world in the same way as the Russian soldier fighting Nazism and NATO in the Kherson steppes. To defeat Putin, we need, first of all, to see him within ourselves! After all, this is not a problem for Russia, it is a problem for entire humanity. The answer to the question: “What’s going on in the head of a dictator?” as simple as possible - nothing unusual: the same as most of us. Only the scale of the game is different: he can merge with a larger group of people, a society that does not know any other reality than the one where it is the object of the confluence, where it is a resource. If there is a “special historical mission” of the Russian people, then here it is: to show humanity the absurd scale and tragedy that the phenomenon described here has taken in an individual person and people. To prove that you can become an adult at 30 or 80, that only then does real life begin. That when the veil of fog lifts, you can get to know your loved ones for the first time, with whom you have lived for decades or hundreds of years, but never really knew. You can get to know your real self for the first time. And it’s better to do it on time, because what happens next will only get more absurd and tragic: the one who hesitated to jump from the “Yellow Arrow” jumps from the “Lomtevoz”.
Performed and recorded by Mikhail Ray at Post Truth Artistic Residency in Kyiv, on June, 17th, 2023.
Matryoshka is a traditional Russian wooden nesting doll, painted like a rural woman. It originates from Japan. When it was brought to Russia in 19th century it obtained different painting and meaning. Initially it was named Matrona, meaning mother. It symbolizes fertility and motherhood. The largest doll is considered the matriarch, while the smallest is called the "seed", representing soul. Each doll within is a layer. Each mother is giving life and carrying the legacy to next generations. Matroska is a symbol of Russia. What meaning it has now? Does it give life? What legacy it carries along? Is there still a soul inside or its hollow place is now occupied by explosives stuffed with nails? The fake, distorted reality, created by propaganda is stripping her identity to be easily manipulated and used as a tool for devastation, murder, tortures or anything useful for the purpose of Russian ruling regime. When the paint is gone, you may easily find its shape similar to the pistol cartridge or higher caliber ammo. Matroska is about to realize its tragedy, to stop carrying poor legacy and find its "seed", its true essence, that was lost.