Ayla Dmyterko

Rite of Return

Rite of Return

Single-channel digital video
11:52 minutes


Audio composition by Mahmood Hussain
Captioning support by Annie Crabtree
Captioning support by Collective Text, Emilia Beatriz, Robert McCourt & Craig McCulloch

Premiered online alongside solo exhibition POUR THE FEAR: Solastalgic Synchronicities at Lunchtime Gallery, Glasgow (Scotland). Screened at CCA Glasgow in the programme Cowlick in a Devil's Peak, Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick, Scotland; Mourning School, Stockholm, Sweden and forthcoming at ACT Arts Centre, Canada.

Rite of Return was observed in rural Saskatchewan (Canada), treaty 4 lands, the territories of the nêhiyawak (Cree), Anihšināpēk (Saulteaux), Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, as well as the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation; the Port of Ness facing the North Sea off the Isle of Harris and Lewis (Scotland); the Glen Etive rewilding project managed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Scottish Woodlands; the Białowieża Forest (Poland), the last primal forest in Europe and my childhood home in Glencairn, Regina.

Special thank-you to Ashley Bedet, Simon Buckley, Fionn Duffy, Lauren Fournier, Aaron Godard, Marcus Jack, Caitlin Merrett King, Olya Kovalenko, Ali Lotz, Owain McGilvary, Christof Nüssli and Hardeep Pandhal

Supported by Creative Scotland, the Shevchenko Foundation, the VACMA Award & the Eaton Fund

A costumed folkloric femme figure stands in the Glen Etive Forest’s rewilding project among decaying trees and sprouting foliage. Her embroidered ankle-length blouse is tie-dyed green to camouflage with the surroundings. Her crown is made of found fabric and mosses from which extends elongated tendrils of ribbon in varying hues of green. In the dusky distance are two peaks known as the Herdsmen of Etive: Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag.

Rite of Return

This moving image work simultaneously reflects on Marianne Hirsch’s Rites of Return whilst extending Rite of Spring: a riot-inducing ballet originally performed by Ballet Russes. Appropriated aesthetically and thematically from slavic folklore, the initial narrative circles around a sacrificial virgin dancing herself to death. In this version, the soloist awakens fraught with solastalgia due to ecological decline and lack of community. She remedies this by drawing upon aphorisms and the poetic structures of strakh vylyvaty or pouring forth the fear, a Ukrainian healing technique to remedy anxieties, especially those related to land.