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Maria Babikova

The Calvert Journal
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Born in 1990 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. I have received BA degree in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. My recent work includes the documentary feature Harmony (2018), with a world premiere at CPH:DOX (Copenhagen), UK premiere in SheffieldDOC/FEST (Sheffield) and Russian Premiere at ARTDOC Fest (Moscow).

The current project Systems of Order examines the hidden relationship between fear and joy - something that is deeply embedded within the Russian condition. The first part of the project focuses on the drag community in Novosibirsk, Russia. In joy, there is a darker reality and often the truth must be hidden in this world and “joy” can only be expressed through beauty - one has to place him/herself within the system.This, in a lot of cases, is based on oppression and boundaries. The theme of oppression vs. exhibition is constantly present in those systems of order. Joy becomes a form of repression in itself, there are moments of freedom in the constructed safe space, but they can only be obtained and permitted behind the masks of beauty and entertainment.

Beauty within a Russian context allows for certain freedoms from the norm. You must fit in the central mass of these systems unless you have power, money or beauty. In this way, beauty can become your safety net. In the country, unsure of its own reality and fearful to discover the boundaries, many struggle to be themselves in the current dystopian hybrid.