Empowering Stories
Art should not give you answers, it should give you the opportunity to ask questions.
Story of Sandra Merkulaeva
"It all started a year ago when I came to the training, where all the participants getting to know each other, had to introduce themselves. To be honest that was a stressful meeting for me. All participants of the meeting, talking about themselves, had something to say about their merits, that they organized events, held positions in the youth meeting, etc. I was very embarrassed to say that I was just a schoolgirl. For about six months, I walked with an inner thought that I had achieved nothing. I looked at myself, I was 16 years old and had nothing to be proud of." The girl felt a certain paradox, she wanted to do something useful and join the active life of young people, but it was not at all clear where to go and how to start. She began recruiting volunteers for participating in city events. "My life became more active, I automatically got myself to the company of organizers. I had an itch to be in art and part in something more. But it was also a fact that I was tired of being just involved, and not a full-fledged organizer, part of the team. I wanted to do my own thing."

Sandra realized that something had to be done. There were many ideas, but the girl was interested in making a project related to creativity. In July 2021, Sandra and her friend Lina Soboleva started writing the Vision project, in August they submitted it for consideration, won funding, and already on September 4, 2021, the first meeting of a three-month project about art took place. "All this desire to create a creative project came from the fact that I was engaged in a theater studio for a very long time and I was interested in a creative space. I would really like to be in a community for young people who were interested in art. Since there was no such community, we had to create it ourselves. I always wanted to show that art is very multifaceted. Art should have no boundaries, art should not give you answers, it should give you the opportunity to ask questions. Vision is about questions and people. So that ordinary people have food for thought. The project involved completely different people and it was these people who made the project so unique." Vision was the first project that the girls created on their own, so they faced a lot of fears. "It was scary in case it wouldn't work out, people won't be recruited or plainly the projector for the event wouldn't work. It happened and there were reasons for it. First of all we did not have a clear plan, we worked very messily and let many things take their course. Secondly, this is a project of two girlfriends, where often meetings on working on a project ended with conversations on personal topics late into the night." Sandra also faced health and academic problems during the project "I approached the project quite obsessively and seriously. I got a bee in my bonnet, I constantly had only thoughts that I had a project and if I had any personal experiences or problems with my studies, I did not pay attention to it." The girl tells what she felt after the completion of the project: "Vision turned out to be about people, for me it was very important. Starting to understand people and understanding how different we are all, I managed to sort myself out. I think it was worth it despite all the difficulties. If not for this project, I would not have matured so much and would not have understood so many things in life. The project gave me the notion that nothing is set in stone, I'm ambitious and will not stop yet, we're still not done. We don't have a specific plan yet. We decided to take a break for now, but we will definitely do something further. We want to develop a system of how it can work and how it can change. How can you change something through a creative project, because creativity is free and chaotic. How to show what you have inside and you cannot express it without words or actions. Through what leverage? What format and duration should the project have? We are taking a break to think over our past mistakes and make a better product."
Interviewer: Viktoria Savitševa