Matryoshka dolls, photo essay by Sasha Bauer
I have asked my mother to tell me about the similarities and differences she sees in me, her and my grandmother. I have learnt a lot about three of us from what she told me. When I have matched mother’s comments to the photos of our ways of life I have suddenly realised that my project turned into a search for similarities and differences, and that it is not so much about the answer, but about the search itself.
It is hard to say now why I have chosen to photographically present the story about my grandmother, mother and myself. I live away from my family and despite of our regular and warm communication, at some point I stopped feeling the connection with them. I started noticing that my life is quite different from the ones of my mother and grandmother. But then I remembered that there is at least one thing we have in common: all three of us left our parent’s home at about the same age.
My grandmother lives in the remote village that my mother left for a new life in the city. My mother lives in the small city that I left for a different life in the big city. Both my mother’s and grandmother’s husbands passed away untimely and their children grew up and left.
Most of us have fears of repeating the life of our parents. We don’t want to be like them. I felt some sort of an excitement when I saw how much my mother and grandmother have in common. Then I got really interested in how honest I can be with myself when I compare my life to theirs…
Since this project turned out to be very personal it became hard for me to have a logical analysis over the photographed material. For this reason I asked other people to give me a feedback on what they see in this work:
You are everywhere there. It looks like you looking for your own traits in those people — in your mother and grandmother — to be exact, you are looking for what actually connects you all. Also I see the story of life repeating itself. The lives of three women in one family are similar and you all have a lot in common.
Me: Are you afraid to be like mum?
Sister: I guess, I am. I started noticing that I act like mum sometimes, and it scared me. But then I realised that we are family and it is just inevitable. We are different at some things and similar at others — and it is normal.
This is about you through the prism of our family history.
I enjoy looking at these photographs. Just like you, I have a strong emotional connection with each picture. I saw all that many times and it is still very interesting. These photos give me a chance to take a detached view: to look at things with stranger’s eyes.
Me: Here is the auto portrait and plates
Yana (tutor): Good. Otherwise there was not much of you.
Me: There is a lot of me. This is all me.
Yana (tutor): Yes, yes. But only you and I know about it.
© Yana (tutor)