Social and cultural youth center is the biggest cultural center in the Sortavala district (Republic of Karelia, Russia) with a number of studios and clubs where residents can meet local schoolchildren, students and staff of the centre. Social and cultural youth center has close cooperation with local institutions in the social and health care sector.

Art residency was held in the centre of Sortavala city in a historical building Seurahuone, it is a part of the Social and cultural youth centre. Residency programs were focused on studies of local context, with emphasis on a young artist at the beginning
of their art career. Residency program worked with different kinds of art, for example visual art, dance, music, theater.

Artistic concept

The idea of this project is to make portraits of people living in nursing homes for the elderly and disabled. A portrait is always an attempt to get
the glimpse of the inside by observation. It is a process of seeing. The artist believes that there are observable layers to human identity: verbal layer, layer of memories, layer of habits, layer of objects. These layers we used to narrate the story, to protect our integrity, to make a place for ourselves in the physical world. Being detached from any of these layers is a traumatic experience. These layers contain both positive and negative space - things manifested and things avoided, and discovering both of these is the goal as an artist.

Working method

Four participants were selected for this project, Konstantin, Olga, Lubov and Yury. All the communication happened remotely, via video conferences. The method is to have interviews with participants as both a way to establish contact and collect visual reference for portraits. At least two interviews were planned and conducted for each participant; first interview as an introductory meeting, second - a general conversation, mostly the artist was inviting participants to tell about childhood, family and their working experience.

As a visual source the artist used video conferences that gave the idea of gestures and mimics, also she specifically requested participants to share some
of their personal photographs.

Some of the visuals will be used to create oil-painted portraits, 4 paintings total 40*50 cm or 50*60 each. Additionally social network pictures might be used to create paintings (appx. 5 pictures selected).


Ekaterina Zhilina, Visual artist
Viktor Lebedev, Psychiatrist


Sortavala Art Residency
Sortavala social and Cultural Youth Centre
Partala Nursing House for Elderly and Disabled