25 weeks of winter is the time it took Russian photo-artist Ekaterina Anokhina to make the book and recover from her long-distance relationship breakup – “a form of self therapy”, as the author defined it.
The colourful, somewhat neurotic and psychedelic image on the cover, in oxymoronic dialogue with the title, invites us to explore the intimacy of her memories, dreams and emotions encapsulated in this tiny but powerful photobook, published by Berlin-based independent label, Peperoni Books.
Black and white and colour photographs of landscapes, objects and interiors mingle with images of the protagonists from the relationship, whose faces are never completely revealed, to produce a melancholic visual catharsis. The book is a medley of photographs that Anokhina took for her diary while they were still together, as well as those she shot later as symbols of the cold void that a breakup occasions.
The sequencing of the images seems restless, resembling the typical mood swings following a breakup. A pared down colour spread precedes an underwater self portrait, which is then followed by a black and white image of a plane taking off. After that, a close up of a tree covered in snow jolted with a flash – a recurring trope in the book – is placed next to her naked love in bed rubbing his eyes, only to reveal the book’s elliptical narrative in the finale as it starts and ends with a desolate winter scene. “Winter is not the real winter,” explains Anokhina, who recently graduated from the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia in Moscow, “it’s the winter in your heart that you are left with when a relationship ends”.
Eager to discover potential meanings that viewers would invest the imagery with, and prompted by her background in psychology, she sent, as an experiment, the book to a psychoanalyst who replied with the highly clinical – subtly ironical – text that accompanies the book at the end.
The mess left, the lack of sex and affection, the loneliness, the loss of faith in love. They all are part of a trauma that can only be eradicated by ‘sublimation through art, the symbolic and the imagery’, as the cure suggests.
One could find an image of unconscious hope. She is resting on the grass, her thighs bear the imprinted and annoying marks of the grass on her skin, but, unlike scars, they are not permanent, they will go away and hopefully she will love again.
25 Weeks of Winter can be purchased here