400 lb. raw buckwheat grain
2010 & 2012
In this performance Natalia Panfile investigate issues of cleanliness and purity related to being her mother’s daughter, the memories created by their relationship, and the parallel relationship that she has with her motherland, Moldova, which she left in 2001. At the same time, she explores the relationship between memory and performance, her medium of choice for examining the issues above.
In this endurance-based performance aimed at retrieving lost memory, Natalia continuously sifts through a 400lb pile of buckwheat that results in a pile of clean buckwheat and a pile of “impurities.” The repetitive motions while on her knees for a prolonged time period let her body dissociate from her mind and hopefully form an unconscious bridge to her forgotten memories of her mother and her motherland. The kneeling position also references Natalia’s grandmother and the religious aspect of purity in this performance.
She chose buckwheat because it is a staple grain in her homeland and its connection to her childhood. Buckwheat is extensively used in her family because it provides excellent nutritional values and it is locally grown. This grain is a difficult grain to hull therefore it has many impurities that have to be picked out before eating. Natalia was the one that always helped her mother prepare food. This was the time when her mother and her sat at the kitchen table, sifted through and talked. This was the time that her mother and her connected the most. The process of sifting through buckwheat helps her connect to the happy memories of her mother and her motherland.