Marina Svinina
Member of the Union of Photo Artists in Russia
She lives and works in Siberia in the City of Irkutsk
I was born on January 12, 1961 in the city of Alzamaiy of the Irkutsk Region (Russia), which turned out to be a very big village. My curiosity brought me there, in July of 2002, to look at the street where we lived and to wander through the floors of the school where my parents had taught. That's where I'd spent my toddler years.

The family moved to Irkutsk in 1963. My younger brother was born in 1965. My grandmother took care of us. Thus my childhood, without the structured environment of  kindergarten, echoes in me for all of my adult life by an inability to think in standard terms; by an ability to live without a society, and by not depending on the opinion of others. 

My father is an archeologist, with a Ph.D. in Historical Sciences, and a Senior Lecturer of the Irkutsk State University. My mother was a bibliographer, currently retired. I have two daughters. And sometimes I think that they are my best work ever.

During summers, I was taken along on archeological expeditions until about the age of ten. Later, in order to protect me from this restless profession, my parents stopped doing so, hoping that I would become an ordinary girl - without strange habits and weird hobbies. Fortunately for me, it did not happen.

From the moment I learned how to write, I began writing poetry. In the sixth grade, I took a great interest in mathematics because I had a great teacher. From the seventh grade, I took extra-curricular classes in literature; got acquainted with Irkutsk writers; got interested in theater; and finally got interested in photography.

I've allowed photography to absorb everything that I know, everything that I've figured out in my life, all my sense of rhythm, my ability to go beyond the physical world, all my extreme infatuation with theatre, poetry, painting, roads and cities. For a very long time, I could not find the words to explain to the people surrounding me that I saw things and I felt things in a different way. I tried to trust mostly what I was learning with photography instead of what others said about them. I tried to gather all of my female intuition and all of my male ability to comprehend forms. I learned how to refine and master print black-and-white photos.

I majored in Journalism in the Irkutsk State University, where I was accepted after completing high school. I dropped out during my last year of studies - the mid-80s in Russia were full of limitless falsehood and boundless political brainwashing. I simply could not lie.

According to my work record - I appeared to have a lot of titles! Actually, from the age of seventeen, I've worked as a photographer. I started working at the library of the Irkutsk State University, then between 1983 and 1987, I worked at the Youth Theater, and at the same time I produced the tour advertising for Musical Theater - 200 square meters (about 2 000 sq. ft.) of manually printed photos.

During 1987-1996 I worked for the Regional Museum of Natural History. I performed a lot of technical work, such as photographing exhibits, copying photos. There I learned to extract everything that is possible from photographic material.

For several consecutive years I worked with archeologists on the river Lena, on site of Shishkino, copying more than two thousand petroglyphs (rock paintings of the Bronze Age) from rocks that extend for two kilometers (one and a half miles). This unique experience required development of a photographing technique. I also took part in ethnographic expeditions to Tofalariya, an area of gold-mines on the river Biryusa.

Additionally I participated in expeditions "in Memoriam" - I took pictures of the re-burying of Kirensk inhabitants, who were executed in 1937, remains of GULAG on Lena River.

Since the age of 17, I've had only creative people as friends. Irkutsk always differed in its ability to gather people of different creative orientations to participate in joint meditations. I spent long evenings with artists painting, observing their works from another level of existence; discussing with directors plans of their performances, and with actors all the subtleties of their transformation inside a role. Nobody straightened me out with "What can you understand in it?!" And I learned to understand poets, actors, artists, etc. by trusting to my intuition. It was the most refined school that I had, and was lucky to have ever attend.

My first artistically orchestrated works began to appear in 1991. Photo sessions were conducted during summer. Almost all the "Dream Works" collection was taken by lenses and cameras my colleagues lent me for a couple of hours during weekends.

In November of 1996, I had my first trip abroad - I was invited to the Municipal Gallery of Turku (Finland) with my exhibition. Then, quite accidentally, I got to visit Munich where I helped to cast plaster statues of Aphrodite for performances of the Main Drama Theater of the city.

From 1996 until 2001, I was a free artist with all its merits and pitfalls. The season of 2001-02, I worked for the Musical Theater of Irkutsk. And I still work there.

Recently I analyzed how and why I changed my jobs. I understood that I've always been asked - in direct or hidden fashion - to quit "due to talent". My parallel creative work on my exhibitions had always confused my employers. And change of places of employment had directly coincided with my next creative project, after the completion of which I experienced "storms" of television interviews and newspaper publications. And … I was asked to find another place, "more appropriate to my talent", than where I was at that moment….

For the last five years, three carefully developed photographic series have appeared, as well as some parallel themes which are not yet big enough for independent exhibitions. I observed on more than one occasion that people get confused while attending exhibitions where I present the multiple directions in which I work. The people cannot form a solid opinion about the author. Taking it ‘as is' is impossible for them.  The habit to define and classify everything they see is just too strong. "Here only this or that, and this only can be so or such". Therefore I can imagine the possible problems the visitors of this site might experience, since we present more themes than my close friends know me for.

But as teachers of Carlos Castaneda would say, a change of styles and directions of creativity is only a change of position of a assemblage point. And if the person wants to be alive and healthy, the assemblage point should not be fixed in one place forever. It should move and discover new areas of an information-power continuum.

In the "Press" section of this site I present articles that were published in Irkutsk newspapers (in Russian). In some instances, I made corrections, fixing factual errors and stylistic mistakes.

If you are interested in organizing my exhibition in your city and are able to do so, please do not hesitate to write - I will gladly consider your proposal.

I want to express my gratitude to Alia & Yury Khovov
- my daughter and her husband -
for development of this site