NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

On the Other Hand, 2019

By Pavel Rotts
150 x 150 cm

1982 / Petrozavodsk, Karelia, USSR

Kodak carousel slide projector, inkjet-printed slides, family archive slides, old soviet bed sheet.

Pavel explores in his practice the legacy of the Soviet Union, the collective and the personal memory, historical trauma, the cultural identity and the position of a single personality in historical context. Despite the serious topics, he finds it crucial to keep a playful approach when working with the material.

“I was born in the Soviet Union in 1982. When I was three years old, my family moved to the small military town called Luostari, which is situated beyond the polar circle in an area called Pechenga. My father served in the army there. I remember how he used to show me the Norwegian border from our window. My very first conscious memories are from Pechenga. Those memories are only supported by very few photo slides taken by my father. It’s only much later, as an adult, that I’ve found out that Pechenga is actually Petsamo – “the eastern arm” lost by Finland after the Continuation War.

We all have a childhood and sometimes we dream about going back there. History is an area where memory meets politics. Recalling Petsamo, I’m changing my viewpoint from an occupant to an immigrant, the scale from the collective to the personal, the intention from militarism to nostalgia. Let’s go back to Petsamo!”


Photo by Sergei Rotts