I perceive the path to freedom through the discovery of humanity, which is a natural state received at birth, but unfortunately often lost. The calling to realise one's humanity as the main goal of modernity is a calling that one grows within oneself through interaction with the world. Discovering the dignity of being a human, one can no longer give up the task of transforming oneself.


My story of seeking freedom began with the process of creation that appeared from nothing. It appeared from what had burned within me over the past years. It appeared from death. Just as by the river I learned to follow my soul, by the sea I learned to turn pain into clean water. I learned to enter a wound and to return being different. The sea is full of resurrection.


Not by accident the Hel Peninsula has become my alchemical laboratory. I associate this place with the ancient goddess Hel who embraces the dead with her warm arm, and the living with her cold one, connecting and caring for the two worlds as one. Here I can be in my usual state, I can be alive and dead at the same time. Born into the land of millions of people buried alive, I share life with them, and the questions of the meaning of this life become daily practice under their gaze.


Hel collects and preserves our "bones" calling us to live according to our own essence. Hel’s presence in the project is expressed through transition and alchemical phases.


Hel teaches us to bring back the life and to resurrect from the ashes. My creative tool is hand manipulated photography and it has similar properties. A light-sensitive emulsion made from natural materials contains all the elements. The phases of photography production reflect the cycles of nature and of a human. Each time I go through birth and death during my creative work. These states of human movement and development are metaphorically expressed through the properties of the Gum Bichromate process. According to a legend, the phoenix egg was made of Gum Bichromate (acacia resin), while it is the main binding ingredient in the photographic technique. I combine it with charcoal and ash to create works of art. I turn to sunlight for exposure and to the sea for developing photographs. The sea symbolises the power that can transform a person and reveal one’s true face. Through the process of developing photographs by hand, which is shown in the film, I metaphorically interpret the spiritual establishment of a human.



Alternative photographic process: 






Maria grabbed my hand and whizzed down the stairs:

"get on – we're going to the sea"


- At night?


I choked with the speed.

My body became elastic water, finding shape in every effort of its muscles.

Resin in the wind – my body.

My sweat – a bitter taste of tree bark.

Intoxicated by my own limberness – myself – the vine – carried me on the bike.

Catching the wind with my tongue.


Have I ever been more grateful for my physicality?


•  •  •


There is a swirl in my chest – the scents of the night surge into it – what is it?

Faded linden flowers?

A girl got up from the pool of salty blood. In a village whose every house is turned towards the river.

I race – my feet touch the branches – touch the top of the linden tree – it is the goal of this child on the swing – I swing myself higher and higher. My brother can’t hold me – I fall on my face – blood in my mouth.

I smile red.


Maria: And once I dreamed that I was feeding a baby – a girl I didn't know. I look into her eyes – it's me.

Did I pull you out of that bloody puddle and throw you into the river? Since then, the colour of your eyes has changed. From brown – like your trees – to grey and turquoise with ocher in the middle. Amber in the Baltic Sea – your eyes – look. The juice of your tree –  a grain in the water.


...Today she will throw me into the sea.




We race in the dark – ghosts on my shoulders – a tart memory of trampled grass – the acid of an unripe apple – my tongue cramps.


On my hot back I carry the nocturnal scent of the apple orchard – its shame and sweetness.

Where else could it have happened for the first time, if not there?

The apples fell in the white noise of our blocked hearing – in the rhythm of "over" and "inside".


My juice in the ground,

in his pupil – my first death,

his face in the pollen – from my chest.

In the morning, the river carried the first blood to the sea.


•  •  •


Since then,

The way to you has become blossoming – to return the plucked fruits.

Thousands of fallen flowers at my feet 

welcomed and buried me

thousands of times

thousands of steps from a date to a date

with a severed head in my hands.

Known for my thirst – I walked – everything walked with me – the way was through you – and up


Maria: Damn! All things in him are a pupil.

You can see how his heart beats – burning itself.




She stopped the bike at the pier and pulled me to the water.

Maria says, “the sea magnifies what you come to it with.”


- What if you’re empty?


Maria: You are never empty – everyone is invited to join the stream – as you dance – so it will be.

Come – see – your – abyss.


My heated feet are swallowed by the cool sand, I walk – giving in to the caress – slowly.

I will remember everything you’ll say to me now.


•  •  •


I feel – as if the sea – wanted to touch – the source – on my feet – with the tip of its tongue – and it sucks fresh blood – through the straw of my vein.

Pain is a portal. Trust is a condition.


Death was enough – to not believe that was the ending.

Orphanhood – it says – get up – it says – enough deception.

Out of – is the victory of choice.




That's how it will be –

the wind

which always blows only in one direction,

the fish with both eyes on one side. flatfish.


What are the options of a life with a trauma if it is



•  •  •


A darning needle

which rips up the sky

throughout the history of humanity.


And if it and the sky –

are one, in the end?


But to stop dividing blood and water,

we have an eternity to learn

to distinguish them.


To stop dividing

the living and the dead afterwards, 

one must die.


To grow,

we need forms and variations,

it’s more interesting this way,

evolvement is synonymous with surprise.


Incarnation is the infinity of creation.





born of suffering 

is drawn rapidly to the sea.


It dissolves,

already having the same composition

gained on the battlefield

or the capacity for



It disappears

leaving foam


on the shore –

and salt

at the bottom.


Grains sing and know everything.

Magic crystals of sanctity,

willing to help

at the first call.


Call it by its name –

the response is sonorous.


•  •  •


What is a wheel for –

a strange symbol!

A rule

which you want to break.


And fabulous shape of a ring – already –

a circle

of hell.


To break out,

to fight,

gaining a sea water formula

in the agony of struggle.




Maria: The sea moaned with pleasure.

For the first time, I accepted this challenge without anguish and guilt.

The sea teaches us to breathe – with our hearts

an inhale is a choice

an exhale is a scent.

Gosh, how I want – to exhale – better..


Maria Elena Bonet, 2023

Translation from Belarusian by Hanna Komar