is Calling!

2017 — 2018

‘Motherland is calling’ is the name of an artistic research-based project I have been working on for the last two years. The title comes from the name of the statue in Volgograd city (formerly Stalingrad) in Russia. The ‘Motherland is calling’1 statue is a part of a monumental ensemble commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad that was built in 1967. ‘Motherland is calling’ is a gigantic woman – ‘motherland’ – with a mouth wide open, calling her ‘children’ to the war, holding her sword high up. The whole territory around the sculpture is a monumental ensemble and a burial place for about 45.000 Soviet soldiers.

The idea to research this topic comes from my personal biographical fascination. I was born in Volgograd and visited the monument several times. The place has a ‘saint horror’ atmosphere and is perceived as being ‘sacred’ in Russian ideology. The same way it is presented in many related texts, songs, and films. The feeling of this ‘saint horror’ [in front of the sculpture, in front of the motherland, in front of the mother (?), in front of any war-related objects, in front of the ‘war’] was cultivated from the childhood, and is forming a part of ‘soviet’ identity. It follows me through all my life, and I see similar feelings in many Russian-speaking people. I want to evaluate this ‘saint horror’ and to give it an artistic shape. At the moment the researched content consists of a collection of texts and images related to the history and ideology behind this ‘Motherland is calling’ monument.

More than 70 years ago, WW-II was finished. But there are still places where you can feel the war's presence; it is kept there, captured in shapes. These places became a living memory for several generations since the end of the war. In Russia this memorization grew in a sort of ‘war cult’ comparable to religious cult (especially in the time when religion was obscured). In my research I focus on one particular monument – ‘Motherland is calling’. It became a symbolic sacred figure of the motherland, victory and memory.

The project ‘Motherland is calling’ takes this statue as a starting point for the artistic research on the role of female warrior figures in a war cult and propaganda.

Many countries with war history have statues of ‘motherlands‘ (or concepts of it). Some researchers see these ‘motherlands’ as symbolic war-goddesses. A female character represents ‘motherland’, that needs to be protected, or the one that is calling for protection, or just calling to fight. It is an emotional manipulation that triggers feelings of anger, pride, fear, honor and horror. War as the horrible act of humanity is substituted by the concept of a sacred act (“to die for the Motherland”).

I take this particular ‘Motherland is calling’ sculpture, as a study case of the phenomena of ‘motherland‘ sculptures in general. I study its multi-layered symbolism, its role in shaping the war perception and people’s personal ideologies (mine in particular).

Following concepts are relevant to the research: Motherland, Femininity, War, Cults-creating processes and a Monument, as a cult object. As a result of this research I would like to create a nonlinear narration in the form of a visual essay, presented in an installation setting, and a series of prints.

The project ‘Motherland is calling!’ researches eastern european ‘mother vs. motherland’ phenomenon based on the symbolism of the Mother-Motherland monument in Volgograd, Russia.

The project is realized with the kind support of Mondriaan Fund and Wilhelmina E.Jansen Fonds.


Exhibition: Motherland is Calling! at Corridor Project space ->

Motherland is calling! project’s blog ->

Olga Ganzha ©