I Am Usual Woman

Maria Kapajeva

Cushions in patchwork technique 2012

I Am Usual Woman explores the post-Soviet economic realities in an Internet driven boom of matchmaking services over the last decade. Highlighting the problems of limited access to employment in a neoliberal chaos of the 1990s as well as the lingering gender imbalance in the Russian population. The work composed of found images, patchwork cushions, video, and a cross-stitch featuring a selected quotation from one the “Russian Brides” websites associated with the phenomenon of ‘Mail-Order Brides’. The project is dispersed among the participating venues and online, at the so-called site where the market takes place.

The work attempts to raise awareness and problematise the urgent issue of severely limited opportunities for professional and personal advancement and a necessity to seek other modes of escape, often facilitated by the Internet. I Am Usual Woman draws strong parallels with the issues of privacy, control, economic conditions and the power of branding that continue to skew the perception of the Russian women abroad.

Maria Kapajeva is a Russian photographer, born in Estonia and based in the UK. Her multicultural background drives her practice to mine a diverse spectrum of cultural identity and gender issues within historical and contemporary contexts. Maria is a recipient of several photography awards and has exhibited internationally including her show Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed at the Photographers’ Gallery in London and two solo shows in Estonia. Maria is currently completing her MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster.

The project I Am Usual Woman is shown in tree parts:

Cushions in patchwork technique, hosted by Pushkin House;

Framed cross-stitching, hosted by EBRD Headquarters;

Online component via www.mariakapajeva.com/birch-trees-of-russia or via QR code:

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