The series was conceived as a story about village schoolchildren. I have always been concerned about this, as I grew up out of town and have firsthand knowledge of how it feels. But in fact, it turned out to be also a very personal, painful at first, but ultimately liberating experience about my difficult relationships with my dad. I had a childhood trauma that formed the complex of a “disliked daughter”. All my life I lived with the feeling that my father never loved me or did not love me enough. And then there came a moment in my creativity, when I realized that through a photo I have a chance to deal with my inner demons.
I went to the village where my parents live in the hope to persuade my father to take me with him to his work, to get to know him, understand him, see his life, and make a photo project about it. My dad is a school bus driver. He is a pensioner, but still has to work. Dad goes to small villages, collects children and takes them to school for classes. I made several attempts to persuade him to take me with him to work, but my father refused – “you’d better find a proper business”. It took a month of long conversations with him, for the first time I honestly and sincerely tried to open up to him, explain why this is important to me, why I left architecture for the sake of photography, and what this «strange» (in his understanding) activity in general means to me.
“No.” said dad, “and that is the point.” I waved my hnd and went to make meat dumplings with my mom, scrolling through my head, what to do next and “maybe it’s okay for this whole thing, nothing will come of it”. And the next day, dad tells me: “tomorrow, Yana, get ready for work, get up at 6 am, you cannot be late, I arranged with the school principal, you are allowed to shoot anything and anytime on the school grounds.”
A wave of conflicting feelings hit me: I was very ashamed that I did not believe in him and gave up and very happy because my father made an effort, probably did not sleep and thought about me, tried to understand me and probably accept. I went with him to work all week, and theoe were some of the best and most beautiful days in my life.
We drove through fields and pastures, and dad suddenly took interest in my project and started to “supervise” it (which actually rather bothered me, but it was very touching), slowed down the speed of the herd with cows or fields with bales of hay and shouted at me to the salon bus – “Yana, shoot! Beauty!”. And I shot and laughed. Or when dad found out that I want to make a couple of shots from the school cafeteria and cooks, he said – wait here! And he left to negotiate on the chef’s caps – “they have to be beautiful! it’s for art! ”. “Well, paaaaaapa”, I moaned, “it’s a documentary photo, paaaapa, you can’t intervene here”. But I was happy because I saw such an unfortunate and sympathetic father. Or he went to the seniors’ boys secretly from me and asked them not to hide, when they would smoke at the school, because “Yana takes off life, everything should be real!”.
When I found out about it, I was terribly angry with him, but then laughed and called him my producer, and he wiggled his mustache in a smile)) And during breaks we drank tea with a cake and watched tv-show “A fashionable sentence” (very popular tv-show about how to dress), and dad argued with me in all seriousness about how a 30-year-old woman should dress, and that I was completely unfashionable , if I do not have “such black trousers, like this lady”.
It turned out that the children loved dad, and he became a kind of gray-haired kind grandfather for them, joking and smiling. He gave everybody some important instructions, he greeted the first-graders by the hand, chatted during the brake with 7th graders, and sometimes shouted at the guys, because “they soiled the windows in the bus with their hands”. I watched all of them eagerly, met with the guys, occasionally making shots. “Are you a bus driver’s daughter?” Asked Zhannka, a girl from the 4th grade. “Aha,” I say. “Wow what a daughter he has! I just adore him! He looks like my grandfather! ”
This history of relations with my dad is important for understanding many things in my life, but it was left behind the scenes. I write this text because thanks to it these photos were born to the world. And of course, my picture of the world has changed, and most importantly – I finished off a couple of demons.