Years Like Water - PhMuseum

Years Like Water

Nadia Sablin

2008 - 2018

Russia

Years Like Water is a series set in a small village in Russia and photographed for over a decade. I’ve been coming to Alekhovshchina every summer, some winters, and lived there for most of last year. I have watched it change little by little – the children growing up, their mothers struggling to make a living, their fathers often absent in the everyday lives of their families. The village can be a paradise for the young – they roam free around town, go swimming after sunset, play on slippery rocks and sneak cigarettes in the woodsheds. There is a wildness to the lack of supervision and infrastructure, a freedom that is beautiful for a time.

As the country changes, the village feels reverberations. The larger economic issues that seem abstract and remote in the press have a very real and direct effect on the villagers. My photographs from Alekhovshchina are a way for me to explore and describe a world that doesn’t fit into the neat narrative of “Putin’s Russia” put forth by both Eastern and Western media. It is more beautiful and complicated than either side would have us believe, more tragic and hopeful.

I feel a deep connection to my subjects: I share their memories of a childhood spent on this land and in these woods. At the same time, I am removed -- an observer tying together the story of a life I could have lived.

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