Screening of To My Daughter I Will Say, a film by the artist Olga Grotova


From 1 June 2023




Garage Auditorium
Age limit — 18+


To My Daughter I Will Say, a new film by Olga Grotova created as part of the two-year Garage Field Research project The Friendship Garden, focuses on tragic events in the artist’s family history that stimulated her interest in women’s land cultivation practices as a means of resisting the Soviet authoritarian state.

In the 1930s, thousands of foreign nationals who came to work in the USSR fell victim to the Great Terror. The wives and children of these «traitors to the Motherland» were sent to a women’s GULAG camp, known as Alzhir, in the Kazakh SSR (now Kazakhstan). Grotova’s great-grandmother Klavdia and grandmother Marina were among those forcibly moved there. 

Brutalized and still in shock from the murder of their spouses and fathers, these women set about creating solidarity and growth in their own way, building a garden which they maintained and defended throughout their years in the camp. Using their knowledge of agriculture and plants, they designed their own irrigation system and generated life in an otherwise barren and inhospitable landscape. The allotment was their own space, based on friendship, sharing, and cooperation rather than terror, and providing food and nourishment vital for their survival.

Later, after their return from Alzhir, Klavdia and Marina, like many other women, made their own allotment, continuing the practice of cooperation and mutual help that had been their lifeline. The Friendship Garden privileged the core human value of attachment and care. Their garden’s timeline ran parallel to the Cold War, but outside official history, instead existing in sync with the lunar cycles, plants, and lives of the female gardeners. The garden became a site where the women’s trauma could be processed through engagement with the land and with each other.

Grotova’s project The Friendship Garden takes this as its starting point, exploring women’s gardening practices as a means of resistance to oppression and opening up a conversation about the consequences of Soviet colonialism and cooperation as an alternative economic force. In the context of the struggle of women and marginalized people for their rights, gardens may serve not only as a metaphor but also as a tool of self-expression and liberation.

The screening will start with an introduction by the artist and will be followed by a Q&A.

The film will be screened in Russian with Russian subtitles. This event is accessible for deaf and hard of hearing visitors.

Content warning: Please note, this film features interviews with women discussing traumatic experiences, with references to forced sterilization, infanticide, and execution.


Free admission with advance registration.