by Anna Senno

Paris, January 2017

A performance project
joining photography
and storytelling 

Day 2

7 days,

Volgograd

Every day for seven days, Anna Senno walks between her home and the laboratory to develop one roll of photographs taken that day.
24 frames – she singles out 1-5, which become the basis for her storytelling. Fiction intertwined with reality: a fixed framework with no pre-established content. One roll and one story per day, for seven days, in pictures and words.

Camera: Canon FT QL – 1966-1972, 50mm 1:1.8
Film: Ilford B&W, 400 HP5
Laboratory: Processus, Paris 

I wish my story would bring more light into this world. It doesn’t. It won’t. So if you choose to keep on reading I won’t be made responsible for any saddening qualities it might have on you. I am not a ray of light. Some people are. They shine. Fluorescent. By themselves. It seems they need nothing from no one. They glow. I don’t.

Some say love can save a soul. It requires a soul. I have met those in total absence of a soul. I have a soul, I feel beauty, I feel the disgusted colours of fear. I just do not shine.

7 DAYS © Anna Senno. All images and text © 2017, Anna Senno. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used without prior written permission from the copyright holders. 

My name is Ivan Razine. My mother was a French communist, passionate about everything red in life. Our house, covered in red velvet, became an attraction for my classmates to visit. They’d sit and listen to my mother’s anecdotes about her time working in the Marionette Theatre. She’d bring out puppets and pieces of cloth as tangible evidence of her past life at the theatre. Located on the corner of Lenin Avenue with the Alley of Heroes, the theatre was inaugurated in 1936. Soon after, my mother started working there. Her voice is warm and tender when she speaks about red, I guess this is when her soul was saved. Giving birth to me, however, was not a welcome adventure. I guess she was put off by my non-reddish colour as an infant. But she did bring me with her as she fled the Soviet Union against her will in 1939. I am grateful. In only two hundred days two million people died – I guess I would have died too. After the war, we ended up in Montmartre. But when on February 10th, 1946 a metro station was named Stalingrad she decided it was a sign and we descended the Parisian mount to move to a place close by called Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad. There was something symbolic about it I must admit. I had been holding on to my mother. I let her be a part of my life. I let her dis-love me, ignore me, feed me. I cherished her.

Have you ever come across someone who resembles you so much you think he might actually be you? You start thinking, “do I have brothers out there? Relatives I do not know of? Are we all kin? Do they recognise me as well?”

This happens to me on a regular basis. I have been seeing myself for some decades now. Different thoughts seek me as I stare at my other me. And somehow my mother always comes to mind. She is my maker. She died in 1993. I was still in mourning. Until yesterday.

I take the metro every day. From Abbesses to Stalingrad. I spend my nights in Montmartre and my days in Stalingrad. I have been discharged from work. I got a pension. I make my morning coffee in Montmartre and I drink it in my apartment in Stalingrad. It is my mother’s apartment. Whenever I hear Lady in Red I think of this apartment. It is a she, and yes, she is dressed in red. Still. When my mother died I kept looking for some evidence of whether all those stories she told from the town formerly known as Tsaritsyn, before it became “red”, were true. I found nothing that could prove we had lived there. I found two photos. The only photos there were. None of me. None of her. Only these two. One from St. Jean de Montmartre depicting an empty part of the church with a baptismal font in the middle. The other of an, again, empty hallway leading towards a courtyard. I guess this latter photo could be from anywhere but it does look rather Parisian. I keep the photos on me at all times. It feels better that way.

Yesterday I was taking line two, as usual, heading towards Stalingrad to spend my day with the red lady. I see myself. I am wearing a smart-looking coat; it has a big and beautiful brownish fur collar. I am handsome, more so than usual. There is something inviting about me and for the first time I actually wish to speak to this other me. I reach down for my leather bag and grab my thermos with the coffee and serve myself a cup. Nervous? Not sure how to do this. I am not shy. I just like to keep to myself. But this other me in front of me is truly reaching out, or am I delusional? I take a step towards him, not too many stops left, I feel encouraged by the urgency. By the risk of losing something precious. 

As I stand in front of this other me, ready to speak, I no longer feel the need to. The young man in front of me is probably about thirty or forty years younger than I am. He looks at me and says: “Volgograd”. I nod and say: “yes”. And I understand. The power of wishful thinking.

I get off the metro before we reach Stalingrad and watch the train go away.