J U N E 7  – J U L Y 15,  2012
silaevsa 610 Natalia Silayeva. Landscapes from the Window.

In recent years many of our compatriots have chosen to spend vacations outside Russia. They happily go to other countries and continents and enjoy their travels. And this is good indeed! Given the sun, leisure, lack of daily household chores and worries, and the speedy development of modern cameras, people tend to take countless vacation photographs of the type “I with this and that in the background”, “I by the Seaside” and ”I and so and so”. Though there is little meaning in such photos, people like taking them.

The new exhibition “Natalia Silayeva. Landscapes from the Window” at the 2.36 Gallery shows an absolutely different approach both to vacation time and the use of the latest cameras. It is a premiere of black-and-white photographs taken by an amateur photographer while traveling through Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. There is nothing unexpected or beautiful about these photos. What is more, they seem at first even boring because we see in them what we repeatedly saw from the windows of our commuter and long-distance trains: landscapes blurred by fast movement, vague silhouettes of houses and people, and fellow travelers reflected in the windows. And this is precisely what makes this series so charming. These photographs are literally full of emptiness, and surprisingly enough, they gradually become even more interesting when there are no familiar objects or motifs left in them – veritable emptiness that is conducive to meditation and philosophizing on the essence of being.

I see little point in recounting the exhibitor’s life story: the photographer herself and her works will do the job far better.

 

I was born, grew and studied in Moscow. I married Valery Silayev rather early and have lived with him for over thirty years. Raising our children has been the main cause of my life, yet no less important have been the interests and passions Valery and I shared. Apart from music, photography has always been his great passion, and it is only natural that a time came when I took up a camera. I have shifted from being constantly photographed to becoming an amateur photographer!  I took my first snapshots with the help of an old Zorky camera, which had been used to take pictures of Valery when he was a child and which he himself used to take his first photographs. Then my husband made me a gift of a Yashica TTL with a zoom, which was just gorgeous! Enthusiastically I took pictures of our children, friends and friends of our friends, landscapes, staged still-lifes and attempted photographing nudes, deriving great pleasure from all of that.

изображение в текст статьи 300x300 Natalia Silayeva. Landscapes from the Window.

In the late 1990s – early 2000s we jointly photographed models for Hard’n’Soft magazine covers, which gave me an invaluable experience in staged photography and in dealing with the models. I was pleased to see my photograph on the front cover. One of my covers  was even named the cover of the year!

In 2002 the artist Leonid Tishkov, our close friend, organized a cycle of the “Biographies” exhibitions at the Mukha (Fly) club gallery, using our photographs to show works by artists, places where they lived and things that surrounded them. I was involved in the projects “GerMania” about German Vinogradov and “Bifurcations” about Masha Konstantinova.

Then there was a trip to St. Petersburg and photographing the artist Mitya Shagin of the famous Mitki. Valery and I worked on that project together. We took photographs at Mitya’s studio, his place and the house of his mother, the wonderful artist and personality Natalia Zhilina, socializing with whom still lingers warmly in memory.

In the mid-2000s Valery and I made a series of photographs with nude models on the roof of a high-rise building with colorful walls and stairs at different levels, which offered a stunning view of Moscow. True, that project, which we planned as a big cycle with different models, has remained unfinished.

When visiting Leonid Tishkov’s studio, I made a small cycle of his portraits with the creatures he had invented and his pictures. Leonid’s wife, the writer Marina Moskvina, even included one of my photographs in her book Learn to See, which came as a nice surprise.

At the moment I like to take pictures of completely unknown people outdoors, some situations or simply city neighborhoods with a mood of their own. True, it is not easy to do so in Moscow, so I mostly do that when I travel. Photographs from the “Landscapes from the Window” cycle were taken from a train window when we traveled across the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in late December 2011. I have of late tried not to part with my camera, always shooting and becoming a compulsive photoholic!                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                      Natalia Silayeva