Dir: Ira Putilova, Romain Beck

UK / 2021 / 30mins

Inspired by the Russian online craze of the re-enacting famous paintings, Ira, a political refugee in the UK, creates a series of artworks that explores the challenges of being in political exile.

Seven years ago Ira, an LGBTQI political artist, had to flee Russia due to political persecution and became a refugee in the UK. Having been disconnected from the Russian community for years, during the Covid lockdown Ira came across a Russian Facebook group that provoked a need to explore and express Ira’s understanding of belonging formed in a situation of double isolation: in the country, they can’t leave because of their refugee status and the flat they can’t leave because of the Covid pandemic.

Participants of the group make and share recreations of art masterpieces through everyday objects found at home. A 90-year-old mother in her underwear poses as Apollo, a pole dancing couple recreate “Icarus’ Downfall”, parents recreate a Modigliani’s nude hiding from their children at night. These colourful and humorous vignettes bring us into the locked-in homes of Russian people from around the world.

In this autobiographical documentary, Ira is inspired by the group to create a series of three vivid art re-enactments linked to moments of Ira’s past. In “Morning in a Pine Forest”, Ira revisits their childhood and makes parallels between creativity in this group and Soviet cultural education. Then in “The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli”, Ira reconnects with their activist friends from St. Petersburg and their own experience in art activism, which lead to their political exile. And finally in “Solitude” Ira explores their refugee present and the notion of belonging in the situation of exile.