A film and installation by Ksenia Galiaeva
Production: Ksenia Galiaeva, Jonathan van Essche, Manon Bovenkerk
In the seemingly paradisiacal surroundings of their Russian summerhouse, the filmmaker turns her parents into willing actors in their own stories. For over 25 years she has attempted to influence their memory and family history through the power of image and wishful thinking, to create a family myth that could be healing. The summerhouse has become a collection of methaphors where time passes at a stretchable speed - like mythical time where the story continues but is repeating itself at the same time.
"History is influenced by the images that remain. Memory changes through repetition, and can acquire almost mythical proportions. Perception is colored by previous experiences but has also the power to initiate changes in memory. In Unreal Estate, fragility and temporality are negated with vividness and humour; objects and actions take on meaning, grow out of proportion and become metaphors for the urge to secure things that are impossible to preserve. In this process, the role of my parents has changed from willing characters to active co-authors.
The film is an ode to our little family, my characters and their history that has shaped me as a person and artist, the only child of two Holocaust and labor camp survivors, and an ethnic mix of five nationalities (Jewish, Polish and German, Tartan and Russian) and four religions.
Unreal Estate was meant to drown out my parents’ painful experiences with the proof of our being together in our timeless garden. Not to forget, but to change our life story into a happy one, which we built together slowly and consistently over many years. The real Unreal Estate ended suddenly, aggressively and is now contaminated by our nationality and our past. Though not exactly ethnically Russian, we are still undeniably products of Soviet history. This is something we cannot turn back or turn our backs to. To maintain and reinvent our place of refuge, I need to exorcise those ghosts. But not give up on the things I hold dear and that made me who I am.
I don’t know how to do this yet."