Hope (2011 – 2019)

My grandmother’s name, Nadezhda, means “Hope” in Russian. She lives in a big industrial city Perm, Russia. Grandmother can barely see and hear, she confuses words, and she has a hard time remembering what happened yesterday, this morning, or even just now. Grandma always feels aggrieved. She thinks that everyone is laughing at her (if someone suddenly laughs next to her, she always thinks that they are laughing at her). She wants to love everyone and wants everyone to love her, but for some reason, she feels unworthy of their love. Sometimes grandma says she hates herself.

It was the death of my grandfather that prompted me to document the apartment I shared with my mother and grandmother in Perm, Russia, at the time. I discovered these domestic photos several years ago: they are so sincere and raw because no one paid attention to my camera. I photographed Nadezhda going outside for the first time after several years of being housebound because of her health condition. I captured their love-hate relationship. But more often, I captured insignificant but meaningful moments such as my mother (Olga) and grandmother (Nadezhda) sitting peacefully in our small kitchen in the beautiful evening light.

My mother has been taking care of my 94-year-old grandmother at home for over a decade. For this reason, Olga doesn’t go outside much — only to buy groceries and medicine. She does not go to cafes or restaurants, she doesn’t travel. This story is shared nowadays by millions of others. Many of us find ourselves living under lockdown across the world, and this might be the first time we experience isolation en masse. The Covid-19 pandemic has not changed the routines of those who had already been isolated. For the rest of the world, it’s a lesson in what life is like for those stuck indoors. My mother still lives in Perm and takes cares of my granny Nadezhda.

The small edition (15 copies) of hand-made book Hope/Nadezhda was self-published in November, 2019.