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Family Tree

My family had always been a whole thing — relatives from my mother's and father's sides had gathered for weddings, birthday and New Year parties. That bond was beginning to break when I was born, in the middle of the 00s. Family members died before I could get to know them, talk to them, love them. Years later I started meeting them separately via our family photo archive. The memories started to rewild in my head.

This is the way I met my grandparents and their family story. My grandparents were always cold people, as Soviet scientists should be, even their daughter (my mother) didn't know them completely. I knew my grandfather for a strict and morose man, but what I saw on the pictures was a merry fellow, life of the party. 

I was going from one photo to another, from a letter to a letter. There were dates, names, wishes, thoughts written on the back on many photographs. Sometimes I failed to read the handwriting in order to understand who was on the picture. Then suddenly I succeeded and it opened a way further in the deep; and so it went along all the branches of the family tree. It was amazing to see the life of each of the families I could have never known anything about before. Even minor details about my long-gone relatives made them alive and truly close. Photography became the only way for me to break through time and become sincerely involved in it.

As a result, it occurred to me that family is formed not only of the people you spend your childhood with, but also owing to memory that can generate ties across the time, hence break boundaries. For two families living in different places at different times cannot have anything in common, but they might have a common future. By combining leaves from trees and archive family photos I created my physical family tree.