Olga Kirilova “Secret folder” +18 (9-23.10)

My friend died at age 57. Before she passed, she asked me to look through her digital photo archive and delete nude pictures of her.

 She was photographed a lot. These photos were full of love, erotica, humor. I became a witness of her private life over her latest years.

 On these other person’s photos I saw not only private life and the right to have one, but also a common case of the existing hidden life, which becomes a ‘shameful secret’ because of the stigma and prejudices remaining in our society.

 To honour the memory of my friend I deleted all the pictures, but re-created them with myself in her place.

 I found the cameras which she used, clothes that she wore, searched for the backgrounds and landscapes that I saw on the pictures. I asked men to pose with me and my friends to take pictures of me. Initially, I wanted to preserve this story of love and life of my friend, which disappeared along with her, and then was literally erased by me. But the more I became  involved in the project the more it became about me. Which is how appeared pictures which belonged only to me, – and therefore I got my own ‘secret folder’.

 I am also 57. I want to find peace with my changing body.

I don’t want to be scared, I want to be free of prejudices. Be open. Be outspoken.

 Despite the fact that I am initiating a double lie, by wearing ‘strangers dress’, by re-creating someone else’s photos, I do state, that this is me. Everyone could have this kind of story. We all are imprisoned by this false shame, fear and guilt. Because of this fear we want to betray ourselves and than our lives, by ‘deleting the photos’.

 Only death justifies our fear. Only death can give us a challenge, interfere with our lives.

 What can I do to accept this challenge? Fearlessly look through the camera lens. Openly smile. Desperately love.

 I am at all of these pictures and at the same time I am not. My body, my photographic body exists in many reflections, just as someone else’s reflects in mine.

Project presented as part of “Be a Lady” exhibition