A Moment In Time
Memories are a fickle thing. So potent, so powerful but so vulnerable too. Vulnerable to time. To perception. To dimming at the edges and furling further away from the truth. Sometimes we reach for them in dreams, other times a sensory kick to the temporal lobe brings them back in a rush – but preserving them, somehow, is an art that can transport a time and a place – a split second that encapsulated years of feeling – beyond its lifetime, beyond its generation even. And how effing magical is that?
How does the saying go? Pictures speak a thousand words?
Yeah, we’re romanticising the hell out of photography. Because, let’s face it, we live in a time where we can catalogue every day of our lives without a second thought. Strangers can follow our every move. We capture what we eat, what we wear, where we go.
Our lives in pictures.
A thousand different memories.
Easy to take. Easy to share. Easy to lose.
But here’s a question … in amongst all that easy and tap-happy convenience, have we forgotten the power these things possess?
Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan grew up knowing her mother took photographs – but never saw the finished work. In fact, the negatives were never developed, but stored instead in the attic of their family home.
Masha Ivashintsova was the lover of three creative geniuses of their time - Photographer Boris Smelov, Poet Viktor Krivulin and Linguist Melvar Melkumyan, Asya’s father. “Her love of these three men, who could not be more different, defined her life, consumed her fully but also tore her apart”. She was so entranced with them that she felt her work paled in the shadows of their brilliance and so never shared her photography, diaries or poetry with anyone.
Asya always saw her mother as a genius in her own right but it wasn’t until she discovered more than 30,000 negatives in the attic after Masha’s passing in 2000 that she truly understood the depth of her talent. The images carefully catalogued almost four decades. Of art. Of passion. Of love.
A whole life. A spirit laid bare.
The sheer beauty of it is breath-taking.
Asya developed a selection of the negatives, and started a gallery to celebrate the work of her incredible late mother. Leafing through the images feels a little bit like an honour, something gifted to you, almost.
And it offers a bit of food for thought, right?
If someone paged through our camera roll in forty years, what would they see? Would they see lovingly savoured memories of our past? Would it look and feel and narrate like little pieces of who we were and what we grew to be? Would the important things – the love, the laughter, the passion – leap out of you with such raw emotion.
And if not … why not?