Children with grandmothers is one of the favorite subjects of Yu. A. Galev. It is clear that the grandchildren were with their grandmothers before they appeared in front of the camera, and will be together when the photographer leaves. They are used to being next to each other. Wherever they are caught by the photographer — at home, in the field, on the street, at a party — grandchildren are inscribed into their grandmother's body like a picture in a frame. Usually, this pair appears before the lens stopped in the process of some usual occupation. For the grandchildren, the grandmother is a pedestal, a support, a foundation; sometimes she does not even enter the frame, but the frame is not possible without her.
These rural grandmothers bring their childhood experiences in pre-revolutionary village: the feast days, fasts, old-fashioned wedding rituals, and Sunday trips to the church. In their youth, they experienced the “dekulakization” [disposession] of their family and/or neighborhood. Their experience includes the grief of funerals for fathers, husbands or sons, early military widowhood and post-war famine, when, together with their in-laws, they raised the children without the participation of men. These grandmothers were usually not very fond of talking about their grandparents. But it was from them that they transmitted their living habits and rules that were rarely explained verbally: to sit with hands on their knees; to tie a headscarf, gathering the folds at the temples; to blow on their tea that was poured into the saucer, in order not to burn themselves; to heal a bruised knee with a saying ("Let it pain the cat, Let it pain the dog, but let it heal for Olya"), or a scratch with a plantain leaf.
The photographs of grandmothers with their grandchildren present the entire range of experiences of elder women that go along with this relationship — from the intimacy and unconditional caring and trust to pride for their own human well-being: the family line survived because of her efforts throughout her life, the extent of which is known only to her alone.
Inna Veselova, Svetlana Adonyeva
Translation by Laura Olson Osterman, Jessika Aguilar, Alexandra Aleynik