Between the Lines, 2021

A multimedia show at Museum of Mari El Republic, Russia, this was a collaboration between 3 designers across 3 countries — curator and lead, Daria Nikolaeva (Russia), and designers Molly Haig (USA) and yours truly (Kuwait). The show celebrates Mari culture through the prism of Nikolai Repin’s poetry, and is an homage to his work through seven unique pieces. 

Photography: Bashnya

Nikolai Repin (1937–2009) was a recognized Mari poet and importantly, Daria’s grandfather. His poetry reflected on his real experiences as a soldier, as well as imagined episodes of wartime life. He romanticized traumatic events through complex metaphors; often based on the imagery of nature. Unfortunately, most of his manuscripts are lost — except for ~50 creations, archived by the national museum. This is only a fraction of his work.

Re-examining these poems, we began ideating, sketching, discussing, translating, interpreting, and visualizing. Molly & I became familiar with the English translations; it means a lot to be given the space to share our interpretation of translated poetry.
Through virtual meetings, we discussed conceptual themes in Repin’s work + the liminal, lost-in-translation moments as the poetry shifted between languages. Our exhibition came to life with 7 unique pieces, some interactive, in this contemporary space.

While the 3 of us come from very different cultural backgrounds & design methodologies, we’re drawn to language, layered meaning, and the liminal spaces between clarity & obscurity. I’m so proud to know and work with these amazing women.