My name is Olga but friends call me Olya.
I’m 23, half Chinese, half Korean, born in Russia, raised in Uzbekistan and got my bachelor degree of Audiovisual Media Art in Latvia, where i currently live.
I’m still learning how to express myself through photography and video and how to share it with bigger audience. My art is not something abstract, it’s just the truth that i’m living. As a post soviet raised child and a young mom and wife, I want to share my experience with others to let them know, how does someone from a Third World Country live nowadays.
I was raised in Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan. It is still pretty conservative and also a religious country, with the main religion being Islam. My family wasn’t religious, though Korean people are known for their modesty.
My mom has never talked to me about sex or anything related to it. Now it seems she was afraid to talk about it because she just didn’t know how to approach the topic. Her parents did not talk to her about sex either. So I was ultimately afraid to talk about it so much that I even didn’t tell her when I had got my first period. I hid it for quite a while and it sucked, because I was 12 and didn’t have any money for the pads.
The topic of sexuality is kind of a taboo there. I mean, of course we had a biology class at school and were taught that girls had periods or that we should use contraceptives. But nobody talked to us about genders, about LGBTQ, about sexual harassment. I think there is even law in Uzbekistan that forbids one to be openly gay, and if a man [or woman] gets caught with their partner, they both end up in prison for up to 3 years.
I was sexually harassed so many times I can’t even keep count. I remember once we were walking with my friend and some random guys walked towards us. When they were close, two of them touched our butts and boobs. They were laughing. I was taught not to respond towards these kind of attacks, because who knew what else knew what they were carrying or what their intentions were- maybe they had a knife, maybe they would rape you? But there was one time when I couldn’t stand it anymore and stood up for myself. I punched them and yelled at them, ready to beat the sh*t out of them or even get beaten back but I decided not to remain silent like society asks of us women. The younger man who touched me, was about to fight me, but the older guys took him away and actually apologized.
This is what happened on the streets of Tashkent.
I moved to Latvia about 5 years ago, to study audiovisual media arts and film directing. Here I felt safer, especially after I met my husband who is a sculptor. Building a family was like building a safe place for myself, where I could be free of judgement, express myself freely, be loved and embrace my feminine power. Growing up in a place where a woman couldn’t express herself through clothing due to risk of sexual harassment took away my confidence and self esteem. Women were not allowed to wear shorts that are too short or a deep neck top because she will be sexually harassed and it will be HER FAULT, which eventually made me shy and lacking in confidence. So it took some time for me to get my confidence back.
I love photographing people, study their body, small details of it and embrace it, make them feel beautiful. That’s how I’ve started to take self portraits. By sharing them i want to say that there is nothing nasty or bad about sexuality, that people have to learn how to love themselves and respect others.
Olga is an artist focusing on the visual arts, study of motion, colors + shapes and how different techniques can influence the way we perceive an image. To find out more about Olga and her work, visit her Instagram Profile and portfolio.