Mind the Step is an artist’s attempt to deal with one of the most devastating man-made tragedies of the XX century -- the Soviet Gulag. In contrast to literature, this subject has almost no presence in visual art
produced during either the Soviet or post-Soviet period. When there were visual records, they largely came from those who passed through the Gulag. Whatever the reasons for this jarring lacuna, Russia did not
have its own Anselm Kiefer, who could confront his country’s dark past in an artistically powerful way, although the Gulag destroyed several millions of innocent human lives. While addressing the subject cannot do enough justice to the atrocities, every attempt to do so is still necessary especially in light of the disturbing rise of Stalinist admirers in contemporary Russia. With its somewhat imperative and inviting title,Jari Silomaki’s project ‘Mind the Step’ is one possible way to deal with the tragedy. In a personal and
empathic way, Silomaki offers a reflection on the tragedy from the perspective of the neighbouring country, Finland, whose people also became victims of the events. The artist’s core performative gesture is
rather minimalistic in character and symbolically unrealistic in scale: to make one step for each known or unnamed victim lying in mass graves, while visiting the original sites of the massacre.
Text by Andrey Shabanov