/ Daria Prokofyeva / Photo story

The Town

Gabdrahman Ahmetovich Mustafin (born 1908, Bashkiria), was a math and physics teacher. In 1948 he was arrested and sent to the Inta GULAG prison camp (Komi Republic, USSR), where he spent the following eight years. In 1950-1953 Mustafin G.A. (as a civil engineer) took part in the construction of the Inta water tower. One autumn morning in 195* together with a group of comrade prisoners he wrote a message on a narrow piece of paper. They put the message inside a capsule and hid it in a metal tulip, a decorative element that was to be fixed at the top of the steeple crowning the tower. The guard didn’t notice them.

In 1957 the decision was made to replace the metal tulip with a five-pointed star. The metal tulip was dismantled, although the capsule with the message was not found. The capsule was taken by Holostov B.R. (born 1926, Estonia), a prisoner in Inta GULAG, a friend of Mustafin G.A. Holostov B.R. kept the capsule for several decades. In 1991 the message was given to Inta Regional Studies Museum. It has become a part of the museum’s collection and is displayed in one of its rooms.

The events described above come from the memories of Mustafin Gabdrahman Ahmetovich, who wrote them down as they came back to him.

Based on these written documentations, the present work looks at individual and historical memory and its representation. As an installation visually referring to the traditional museum exposition, it depicts a fragmented narrative evoked by the personal reminiscences. Photographs, objects, texts, archival materials and verisimilar items are juxtaposed in sequences to create new stories.

(With the kind cooperation and support of Inta Museum of Regional Studies, Russia; Research and Information Center Memorial, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.)

Daria Prokofyeva (1988) is a Russian-born artist whose practice engages with the transition between documentary and art. She studied Art History in St-Petersburg State University, RU; and Photography in University of Brighton, UK.