News / 30 Jul 2015

Jana Romanova 'Adopted Welsh'

During her European Prospects residency with Ffotogallery in Wales, Jana Romanova developed a new body of work titled Adopted Welsh.

‘In a short movie by Claire Denis “Vers Nancy”, French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy suggests that existence of the other, a foreigner can be considered a condition for our identity and gives us a possibility to feel the unity with our “friends”, our circle. Thus meeting a stranger actualizes our community identity and sense of our belonging to a particular group of people.

I have always been interested in how these kinds of mechanisms work on a nationality level, taking into account contemporary situation in the world and especially in Russia, where the search for national identity has become a very big issue during the last couple of years.

Being a foreigner in Wales, I started a series of one-to-one conversations with different people who consider themselves Welsh, asking them to describe Welsh person, Welsh identity to me and in the end asking if they think I can also become Welsh. Out of almost 50 interviews in different parts of Wales, there was only one negative answer, while everybody else provided me with different recommendations on becoming Welsh.

I took all of these suggestions and made them my regular practice. Every day for two months I tried to become part of different groups of people who are doing something together across Wales, changing my appearance in order to fit properly, to be less visible as a stranger. This practice became a search not only for what is national identity, but mainly a search for community, for a place and a moment where community exists.’

Jana Romanova, July 2015

Adopted Welsh will be exhibited by Ffotogallery, Cardiff, from 22 January to 18 March 2016.