Installations / Under the mountain
Sapun Mountain is a hill located southeast from the city of Sevastopol, Crimea.
It is a seemingly unimportant ridge in the nature surrounding the city, while, instead, it has been of crucial tactical importance in the past. Both during the infamous Crimean War (which raided the land from 1853 to 1856) and the Second World War, Sapun Mountain was the epicentre of important battles, witnessing the bloodshed of countless valorous warriors coming from different countries who lost their lives fighting over this hill.
The soil of this mountain is drenched in blood, rich with the metals of bombshells and explosives, a resting ground where the spirits of the many fallen soldiers find a home. It is a beautiful place with a heavy legacy which is still revered today in the form of monuments, museums and altars.
On top of the hill, a large area dedicated to the fallen warriors of the wars was erected after the ending of Second World War: an open public memorial that is visited by tourists (mainly local) and by couples that choose on their wedding day to pay a tribute of flowers to the undying flame at the monument for the heroes of the Soviet Union.
Sapun Mountain is a painful spot for the city and the inhabitants of Sevastopol: a place where different ages are woven together and the burden of the past still has a strong influence over the future; where historical facts meet personal memories; where traumatic memories of the past wars become embodied in the dreams of new generations.
The tormented memory of these places will keep living not only in books and records but in the collective memory of the children and grandchildren of those that witnessed it first-hand. Memories and dreams will shape reality.
Hundred Years’ War is a project initiated by Natalia Grezina (Crimea) and developed together with Marth von Loeben (Italy) which revolves around the traumatic legacy of war.
War has always been narrated and taught in a detached manner: dates, numbers, nationalities and places have appeared on paper as cold, distant reports which never included the first-hand perspective of those who fought in the battles. The historical narrative has chosen to distance itself from personal memory brandishing the excuse of accuracy: what individuals recall in their mind is obfuscated by pain and trauma, and therefore not unreliable and not useful.
The two artists are countering this mainstream description of historical war facts with their project Hundred Years’ War which revolves around and aims to tell the personal and traumatic events of those who fought and witnessed the horrors of war. This is done through the process of post-memory (the narrative practice of internalizing and retelling someone else’s stories) and the study of the influence that war legacy has had on individuals.
Developing in chapters, the project started with the analysis of family history from Natalia’s side and how this has been handed down by her grandmother (who participated in the Second World War) and is now shifting to the study of geographical places of relevance around the city of Sevastopol.
The project merges the embroidery and drawing abilities of Natalia with the narrative skill of Marth, creating chapters that surround and call for the viewer’s attention under all forms: one has to experience the installations as small parallel realities where time, geography and the self do not respond to the laws of physics but to the laws of non-linear storytelling.
Hundred Years’ War is a long-term, ongoing project: Natalia and Marth are already working on the new ideas which will take shape in the next chapters, telling different stories and reshaping the manner in which war is narrated.