The “Housewife-in-residence” project by Varvara Zhemchuzhnikova is a self-exploration and reflection on personal experiences and thoughts in the process of adaptation to the new way of life, life of an immigrant: from a single woman to a wife, from an artist to a housewife, from a member of an established community to a loner in a new country, from a native to a foreigner, from citizenship to "pending residency" status.
The canvas filled with yarns is a return to live experience where the author uses symbolic housewife media: needlework and yarns for visualization, and life log and photo diary of the yarn painting for exploration. The main question of the project: how the personality survives through the immigration process.
The “Housewife-in-residence” canvas became a first in the series called “Social Fabric of Migration”.
It all began with blank canvas in a new country with no official status. Every yarn attached to this canvas has its own story behind. Some are connected to challenges, anxiety and frustration experiences I went through while being officially “nobody” in the new country, some keep tracks of personal life events in these adaptation processes. Some yarns are from people who decided to share their personal stories with me, now those stories are attached to my life canvas. Those stories are written down in the journal.
I personally went through two immigration processes, first was study immigration as a single woman with my kindergarten age son, to Finland, and the second one, to Canada, to married life, when my presence in the country was allowed but it takes time to be officially approved as a resident of the country. “Pending residency" status gives no rights to work, no rights to study, no rights to leave and re-enter the country. For me, this status meant being nobody for the country while living there.
This project and canvas tells the story of these 2 years of waiting for the status, for the permanent residence card, 2 years of unpredicted decisions and unsureness. For some statuses are not important, for others it shapes their reality, their rights, and therefore their self-esteem and level of life satisfaction.
“Personal projects Exhibition”, September 2-3, 2015, Lume Gallery, Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki, Finland (organized by AALTO University, School of Art, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland).
The project was nominated as the “Best project” among almost 40 different projects.
“Social Fabric of Migration”, May 5-26, 2017, Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, 02150 Espoo, Finland.
The project is a part of AALTO Festival 2017.