New East Digital Archive

Motherland: time-travelling through generations of Russian womanhood

With a simple and straightforward documentary style, Russian photographer Ivan Mikhailov has created portraits of three or sometimes four generations of women from the same family, shot in Moscow, St Petersburg and villages scattered across the country. In their directness, Mikhailov's pictures are reminiscent of the work of photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White, who shot images of rural America in the 1930s and 1940s. Although all the portraits were taken in Russia in 2014, the photos — and the women posing within them — have a floating, timeless quality that leaves it hard to pin down exactly when or where they were taken. Which is exactly the goal that Mikhailov is aiming for. “Photography is like a time machine that allows us to travel to the past,” he says. “So for me this is an attempt to examine the nature of time and its effect on people, by tracing similarities and differences, mutual relations, the details of the period — like a vast domestic family archive.”