My project Absentia/presentia is a reflection on the search for spirituality in everyday life.
When I was four, my parents baptized me in the Orthodox Church — the Russian tradition dictates performing the ceremony when a child is still small. For my family, it was rather a formal procedure — none of my relatives has ever reflected deeply on questions of faith. This is why the content of my religious life has never been rich: I would address God with various requests (as if He were some kind of a magician), paint eggs for Easter, and wear a cross on my neck.
The crack in my relationship with God emerged after the loss of my loved ones. My grandfather was the first to pass away; then, when I was 19, my mom died. It was then that I clearly felt there was no afterlife promised by Orthodoxy. I had no illusions left about eternal life. With this realization, my faith in God vanished.
In 2022, after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, I started to contemplate again the existence of a higher power: should God exist, He would not have allowed such events to happen.
An incident in a Catholic church became the strongest intention for this project. I entered the church and saw the religious sculptures covered with cloths. The absence of the common church symbols made me feel uncomfortable — as if I was witnessing blasphemy. This seemed strange to me, because I considered myself an atheist.
Could it be that some part of me still allows for the existence of a higher power? I decided to search for the answer through the signs and symbols in the outer world, leaning on the inner sense of harmony and unity with the supreme power rather than on the Russian Orthodox Church canons. After all, the ultimate essence of any religion is not a series of requests and fear of punishment, but a path to inner harmony.