Yana Nosenko

MFA ’23 Photography

I’ve been told that no one leaves home from an excess of happiness and comfort. One leaves, because it’s not possible to remain. 

I came to the US four years ago. In some sense it feels like it was yesterday and in another it has been forever. I took an Aeroflot flight — Moscow – New York City. Afterwards, I visited Russia once, for a winter break in 2019, but it seems much further in time than that. Aeroflot doesn’t fly outside Russia anymore, and I don’t fly outside of the US anymore. 

My family is nomadic: we wander seeking contentment that eludes us. My grandmother lives in the US for half the year, and in Russia for the other half. 

My mother moved from her small town in Kazakhstan to Russia almost thirty years ago. Is she an immigrant? My father’s sister came to the US more than thirty years ago. Is that long enough? Is she American now? 

Back in Moscow, I pictured my aunt somewhere over there, somewhere far, but somewhere that is not the same as here. We were never in touch, though she is my godmother. But now I know her well. 

When I was little, my favorite color was pink. I never thought I’d grow up this quickly; it seems like it was yesterday I was dreaming about becoming a flight attendant, like my aunt. I would never dare to fantasize about becoming a pilot, like my father. Girls in Russia don’t dream of being pilots. 

“I’m glad you’ve left” — my father told me from his apartment in Moscow during our video call in the beginning of March 2022. His voice was tired, his tone bittersweet.

Yana Nosenko obtained a Graphic Design degree and worked for an urban planning company before turning to photography and video. She explores immigration, displacement, nomadism, and familial separation, reflecting on her own experiences growing up in Moscow, Russia. Her work was recently exhibited at the International Center of Photography Museum in New York City, Black Box Gallery and Abigail Ogilvy Gallery. In 2023 she was awarded a residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA. Yana currently resides in Boston, MA.