Marina Black’s conceptual project The Versts* is inspired by an anthology of poems of the same name written by the Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva. Black questions the authority and veracity of the photograph and chronicles its ability to transform time, memory and reality. By reconfiguring images of her homeland, Russia, and those of her family and friends, she challenges the accuracy of photography as a means of personal and historical documentation. Currently based in Toronto, the artist examines the concept of national identity as a constructed image mediated through photography.
Black uses stained films, blurred exposures, cutting and collaging techniques, and juxtaposes images with handwritten texts, to question the nature of photographic representation. Rejecting the traditional documentary practice of realistically portraying people and places, her images tend toward abstraction. By means of this process, the artist creates a dynamic between photographs of Russia, her memory of the nation, and her personal identity. Black’s artworks spiritually and emotionally evoke the idea of personal experience. She asks us to consider whether photographic images can become more real than one’s actual experience of a place.
* A verst is a Russian measure of length, about 0.66 mile or 1.06 km.