My husband and I moved to Tbilisi in June 2019. In late January 2020, I came to Ekaterinburg to settle some things. I stayed in the apartment of my friend’s parents, where she herself moved with a child during maternity leave. I had to return to Georgia in April, but the pandemic started, the borders closed, and I got stuck in Russia. I wasn’t ready for this situation, neither mentally nor financially. I turned from a guest into a person of a weird status. I couldn’t afford to rent an apartment and lived by turns with two families: with one on weekdays, with another on weekends.
At first, my situation depressed me. I was uncomfortable and ashamed. I felt foreign and odd. My things were in different apartments. I couldn’t carry them with me, so I even wore someone else’s clothes given to me by my hosts.
Gradually, I got used to my new lifestyle. Knowing their tastes, I shopped a particular set of groceries for each family. I helped with kids, with housekeeping, with pets. My friends’ son asked: “When will our Oksana come?” The hosts waited for me to visit them. I started feeling comfortable in each family. At home. At the same time, I knew that I am not a part of their family and can leave at any moment.
In May, I visited a friend in Chelyabinsk and photographed myself in his room, in his home clothes. That is how I started the Not At Home series.
I took pictures of myself everywhere I lived even for the shortest time. Most often, in a photograph, I am wearing my hosts’ clothes. But in some pictures, I am in my own clothes, and surprisingly, they are in harmony with the space that belongs to my friends.
It’s been 11 months since I have been living not at home. In the meantime, I learned that I can fit into any home and family, enter other people’s lives, and still stay myself. In this project, I am exploring how I look and feel when I am in a strange place but at home.
Right now, I live in Nizhny Tagil. I commute to Ekaterinburg for work on a Lastochka commuter train and stay at my friends’. Now I have somewhere to return to.