/ Aleksandra Iarnova / Photo story

I smell of blood

The issue of guilt and responsibility.

I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, but I have been living in Latvia for eight years now.

The events of February 2022 came as a complete surprise and shock to me; I had long been living outside the context of the political situation in Russia.

In the first months, I was afraid to leave the house and speak Russian. It seemed to me that my clothes were stained with blood. I wanted to hide, to blend in, and to sever all ties with my former homeland. Denial and non-acceptance of the situation pushed me to study existentialism and the problem of collective guilt and responsibility using examples from other countries.

The treatise by the 20th-century German philosopher Karl Jaspers, “The Question of Guilt,” helped me find answers to my questions.

The author denies the path of “collective responsibility” as absurd, but he places on each individual, as a person, the recognition of moral and metaphysical responsibility. Conscious acknowledgment of guilt provides the possibility of a path to purification.

My project is a path from hopelessness, depression, and fear to personal repentance and acknowledgment of my responsibility for what is happening.

Aleksandra Iarnova is a Latvia-based photographer with an education in history of arts and background in icon painting. She focuses on themes of self-identity, a person’s relationship with oneself and one’s body. She is also interested in modern still life photography.