Carelia: Internacional con monumento is a video documentary that takes as its subject a territory split by the Finno-Russian border, which more closely recalls a wound than a frontier. My first idea was to explore the vestiges of its ancestral mythology and the magic-religious practices of its people. I wanted to know if they could serve to call up the past, heal the traumas of war or allay the panic felt when a tide of political change disrupts the social fabric. However, the Karelians themselves told me not to waste my time; that nothing remained of that magical past.
I encountered a Christian Orthodox family that still keep alive certain rituals tracing back to their shamanic forebears. They seemed to me to carry the power of healing, the metaphor for a cure, a heaven here on earth. In parallel, a shameful event occurred: the historian and activist Yuri Dmitriev was sentenced to imprisonment. For over twenty years, he had worked to locate some of the hundreds of mass graves that scarred Karelian territory during the waves of political repression unleashed in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s.
Merging these two stories, connecting the emotions or forces contained within each, the impressions gained during that summer in Karelian lands helped me recreate a gesture, an image, a verbal register, aware that I was creating a memory of historical events through use of the imagination. The Pankrat’ev family, the video’s protagonists, have a log at home they call the God Pan, and it is he, I believe, who best defines the spirit of this work: on the one hand, Pan, who embodies the countryside and nature; on the other, panic, the apprehension of fear.
Video, 90’ 11’’