This is second so-called oil picture from my collection “Past Future”. Despite my parents’ ban, it was a kind of hobby for us to visit the oil barn after school or instead of studies. It was really unsafe. During spring, this area was full of venomous snakes, it was easy to get hurt. The metal surface of oil derricks had been smeared with fuel oil, there was a risk slipping on and falling down from enormous height. But it couldn’t stop us.
Climbing the top of an oil derrick was as boldly as smoking in open near the school entrance. There was one brave girl among us, her name was Solmaz. She had both natural maiden beauty and male bravery. I still remember her thick long black curly hair as she left it go free once she went out her house. She often told us how she hated the braids her mother thoroughly made every morning, they fettered her. She had clean-cut features – huge brown eyes, chubby lips.
I guess many of my friends were secretly in love with her, but they also must have been scared. Her freedom-loving temper was showing not only in a protest to braids. Like any boy, Solmaz fearlessly overcame any obstacles.
At that time, one of the ways to entertain ourselves was to cross the distance from one oil derrick to another by tense cables. Almost none of boys never managed to keep the balance needed to walk more than two-three meters. Solmaz easily did it, like the circus performer. Everybody was excited. We accepted her to the boys group.
There was a story that sits in my mind for a long time. As usual, we played on the edge of the tank, chatting and having fun. At some point Solmaz, laughing aloud, slipped on a black oil spot. It occurred in few fractions of a second but, in my memory, this moment stayed as a slow-motion shot. She didn’t manage to keep balance and fell in a ditch. Black splashes flew extensively. It was a terrifying scene. We were paralyzed with fear. She was going down, floundering. I remember her long black hair immersing in the dense oil swill. We were looking at Solmaz as she was losing strength, floundering in oil, until suddenly someone cried: she isn’t able to swim! My friend Farhad, who played water polo and was a perfect swimmer, responded first. He immediately jumped in a ditch. With few confident movements he got to her and had pulled her out. Standing on the land absolutely black, like two devils, looking at each other, they laughed hysterically. Realizing that the danger was over, we joined their laughter having fun at how unusual they looked. We knew that parents would punish them when they come back home like that, and that they would stay home for a while afterwards.
In 2011, I was shooting a music video for a famous Russian singer. For shooting, the hairdresser curled her dense black hair. These ringlets had instantly transferred me to my carefree where the school uniform had always been smeared with fuel oil, and the air smelled of oil. During shootings, I’d made several photographs, one of which became an initial image for this picture which is called Solmaz.