ShowoFF Section

Marina Istomina, Suffocation

Curator: Silvia Pogoda


Marina Istomina’s Suffocation is a visually visceral reaction to Siberian wildfires. Istomina highlights elements of the conflagrations that one does not see covered in the mainstream media. In the case of the infernos consuming Siberian forests, culpability lies with the forces behind illegal deforestation and the political games they play as the wildfires rage and the trauma of the experience accumulates.

Istomina chose a visually compelling approach to covering a challenging issue with an absorbing narrative form. Suffocation is a tale straddling fiction, figment, and reality. As she often does, the artist, working with the theme of trauma, interweaves archival materials. In Suffocation, she has prepared multilayered puzzles for the viewer, creating images that are brought into confrontation with each other. We ourselves experience suffocation on several levels. We move through a sphere in which it is difficult to separate the objective from the subjective, personal trauma from collective social trauma. We are caught in the middle, surrounded by images pressing against us, showing us different ways of experiencing the same traumatic situation. We register an intensity of emotions through the force of the collision between the actual and the phantasmagoric.

—Silvia Pogoda


In 2019, more than 14,000 wildfires occurred in Russia. By the end of the fire season, 277 criminal investigations had been initiated. One-fifth of the fires spread across Siberia and its Irkutsk region, where the forest that belonged to nobody was turned into a board for political games to be played on. News photos depict green wood burst by red flames. They almost never show the specific individuals responsible for setting the forest on fire: those supporting illegal deforestation and seizing the seemingly untouched area. Media photography, charged with representing the problem worldwide, becomes evidence of concealed incidents in which the key figures are men: legislators, ministers, hunters, foresters, firefighters, and leaders of criminal syndicates.


Marina Istomina (b. 1993, Ust-Kut, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia) is a visual artist working with studies of memory and trauma. Her practice is based on interviews and archives embodied through visual images. Originally hailing from Ust-Kut, she works within a local Siberian context.

Exhibition partners: Cricoteka, Fundacja Lablab


CRICOTEKA, ul. Nadwiślańska 2–4


thu.–sun. 11.00–19.00



Skip to content