/18 Family

Nadia Sablin

Alehovshchina: Two Sisters

Aunties is a series of photographs detailing the lives of two of my father’s unmarried sisters who live in Northwest Russia. Having spent their youth working in big cities, after retirement the two women have come back to their childhood home. Alevtina and Ludmila are in their seventies, but they are choosing to return to the traditional way of life in Russia, chopping wood for heating the house, bringing water from the well and making their own clothes. The vegetables the women harvest in the fall and the berries they gather in the summer supplement the meager pensions on which the elderly subsist in Russia. My photographs are an exploration of two women’s reliance on each other, ancestral tradition and land as a means of survival. The house in which Alevtina and Ludmila live was built by their father. The rugs were woven by their mother. They contribute to the home as well, with new wallpapers, hand-sewn curtains, quilts and lace. Handwritten recipes are folded to contain seeds for planting, or rolled up balls of stray hair. The meticulously weeded garden sprouts flowers among the strawberries and onions. Their rural environment is as much a character as they are themselves. The project is a meditation on aging, family and a sense of belonging.