Time Regained

The truth will only begin to emerge from the moment that the writer takes two different objects […] and encloses them within the circle of fine style […] unites them in a metaphor.
Time Regained, Marcel Proust


The COVID-19 lockdowns closed the external world and opened the inner world. I had to pause commercial projects and I was able to go ahead with my contemplative photography. Amid self-reflection, I was playing photography solitaire ​— black on white, stone on water, despair on hope. This is my poem about deserted, nude, but always beautiful and strong-willed Venice.

On the surface, this is about the city, but if we look a little deeper, it is about a reader or a viewer. The protagonist of Marcel Proust’s novel Time Regained immerses himself in his life memories through external images and objects. Similarly, in finding metaphors through photographs, viewers immerse themselves in their own reflections. The photographs are placed in a certain order like one thought leads to another.

Yes, we were stopped. However, the time wasn’t lost​ — it was regained. Flooding amid climate change and environmental challenges are the most important issues for Venice. During the COVID period, the city showed significant progress. In 2020, Venice was able to block floodwater thanks to the activation of its long-awaited flood barriers MoSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico). Venice’s ban on cruise ships was put in place and it could be a vital step toward saving the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem. The city’s new visitor tracking system could help create more sustainable tourism. All of these were done by people, and in turn, nature reacted. The series begins with the photograph Recovery, which is very symbolic and important. I had worked in Venice for many years and had never seen fish there. One day, between the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2021, running past the Bacino Orseolo Gondola Station, located just behind St. Mark’s Square, I could not believe my eyes — the fish had returned to the city and there were more of them than gondolas. 

Lost Time or Regained is a personal choice that extends beyond the lockdowns.

Cruise ship

🡓 Click on a photo to open the full-screen gallery

Limited edition prints by request
40 x 50 cm
15.75 x 19.69 in
© Eva Vasilyeva 2021

LensCulture review

Eva Vasilyeva is a talented photographer with high aesthetic criteria and a restless spirit. Eva’s series is excellent in every way and, believe me, I have said this only a few times. Images have high technical and artistic quality, the atmosphere is unique, diptychs are successfully structured, and conceptually there is more than one interpretive level. The personal character of her work is obvious and becomes its most crucial feature increasing its authenticity.

The title refers to the metaphorical meaning of the work and the connection with Proust’s famous book is an inspiring one. The statement introduces us to the work and explains the connection nicely. Beyond the above, the personal character of her work is obvious and becomes its most crucial feature increasing its authenticity. What we see here is not an objective presentation of Venice but Eva’s subjective view on it.

Lockdown gave Eva the time to deal with the place in a closer way and her relationship with it helped her to express thoughts and feelings of the specific moment. Eva’s commitment and personal interest in this work are visible in the way she presents Venice while she discovers connections and relationships between the elements of the space around. Photography like every art form proves also its role as a way out of every hard situation. The empty from people but not deserted Venice becomes a metaphor of an inner journey and the pairs of images here could be a symbolism of you and your inner self in a probably unconscious dialogue. I imagine this dialogue like the creation of a poem by two people where one of them writes the first verse and the other matches the second.

Be sure that I will show Eva’s project to my students for many reasons. I wish Eva Vasilyeva good luck, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her in the future. 

LensCulture, a photography magazine about contemporary photography [link]