Humanization and Dehumanization
Clothing is used by Hell's inhabitants to maintain a sense of self in unbearable circumstances. Age, gender, social status, and relationship with one's own past are dissolved in endless and unbearable anguish, and often the costume and the practices connected to it turn out to be almost the only tool that allows the damned (and the "demons") not just to feel their relative humanity – and self – in the middle of what's happening, but also to exercise some kind of pushback to the surrounding reality, even if that pushback is hopeless and utterly symbolic. Thus, a damned soul inserts spines in their own shoes in a vain attempt to stop the transformation into a "demon", a young man carves "I am Yakov" multiple times on his own skin, hoping to remember himself the way he was before Hell, and an ex-factory worker rubs dirt under his nails, to keep recognizing his own hands.
Humanization and Dehumanization
Sandals with thorns inside
Female sandals with thorns glued on the inside by a damned soul to prevent her from rising on her toes: it gave the woman hope that in this way she could stop the process of "demonifying".
Soviet school uniform with naïve embroidery
Soviet school uniform dress, embroidered chaotically with little naïve ornaments, what were created by the dress's owner, a 12-year-old girl, throughout her permanence in Hell
(The author thanks Irina Ulyakova, a colleague and a friend, for her work on the embroidery)
"I am Yakov"
In Hell, a person deprived of their habitual activities, environment, and their life as it was, swiftly starts to lose their sense of self – and it turns out to be a torment that is much harder than other kinds of suffering for many. Here are photos of a damned soul named Yakov Petrovsky a month after getting to Hell: he regularly carves "I am Yakov" on himself, and it gives him relief.
(The author thanks Olga Philippova, the designer who helped with the work on this object)
Hands of an ex-worker
A picture of the hands of a worker who, in Hell, regularly rubs dirt under his nails so that they look as they did in life.
(The author thanks her father Boris for his help creating this object)
Mock fetters and an excerpt from a diary of a repenting "demon"
An excerpt from a diary of a famous repenting "demon," Sergei Kvadratov, who wore on his neck the fetters made of chains with lead plates with descriptions of his sins glued to them, and mock plastic fetters with plywood inserts, used as a joke by an unknown "demon" who placed scraps of menus with luxury donuts from the Israeli café "Roladin" on them.
Plastic, plywood, paper, mixed technique.
Formal costume of a "demon" who died of cholera
Textile, chamber pot, acrylic paint
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