Marina Solntseva,
de_colonialanguage collective 

Eyes like these

Since the right to form the “official” archives by and large belongs to the nation states and their respective governments, and these governments might control, take hostage, ban or erase the materials at will, from a decolonial point of view, another, non-centralized archive must be created to support the self-documentation of a variety of lived experiences — through family ethnography, recordings of oral memories, poetry, and self-documented artistic practices and related discourses.

I believe that personal positionality here is important, because a personal story almost never fits mainstream narratives.

In the multi-ethnic structure of what we refer to as Russia today, built on the hundreds of years of colonial relations, the strategy of belonging officiated by the authorities has been — to be/look like/imitate “being Russian”. In this often xenophobic and whitewashing pursuit, the Russian empire (and its version, the USSR with its central command in Moscow), used a known colonial toolbox: erasure of languages, culture and memory, repressions, displacement, extractivism and so forth.

The silent archive of our everyday life, “старый добрый хлам” (rus.)— fragments, good old trash — is what we’re left to contend with. These mundane memory objects carry a moment of glitch, where the past events meet the current moment of reassessment. 

Recently I began collecting such objects that gathered around my home over time. And tried to reproduce my family story through them. These mementos seemed filled with significance I had no clear understanding of.

Born in a small town Strunino in Vladimir Region of Russia, at the so-called the “101st kilometer” (a colloquial phrase for restrictions on freedom of movement in the Soviet Union), I am looking for answers about my identity through these various things, mysterious and easily mystified, left to me by my grandmother and mother. I called the process: MARINA, WHY DO YOU HAVE EYES LIKE THESE? 

Below is a diary note on things that live with and within me — the mystical artifacts of my everyday:

 Above: Eyes like these, Marina Solntseva/ de_colonialanguage, photos by Denis Esakov, 2023  

NON RUSSIAN, by Oirad, a fashion brand created by Aldar Erendzhen and Gilyana Mandzhieva aiming to preserve the culture of indigenous people.  

All images: “whiteness” exhibition by de_colonialanguage, 2023

Mauricio Limón, Performing White Skin, Video, 2023

Only For Slavs,  inkjet on paper, De_colonialanguage Collective, 2023   

More information on de_colonialanguage collective here