New East Digital Archive

Houseguest: staying over on Sunny Street

Swedish photographer Ken Kajoranta captures the atmosphere of a Russian rural home

7 August 2015

Swedish photographer Ken Kajoranta was travelling in the Altai region of Russia this June when his travel companion suggested stopping over at her grandmother’s house in the village of Baynovo Klyuchi. While staying at Babushka Valya’s, Kajoranta had a chance to capture the unique atmosphere of the rural Russian home. “The house is situated on Solnechanaya Street, which was translated as Sunny Street. This name set up the tone and mood for the series,” says Kajoranta. “I wanted to emphasise the summery atmosphere and warm weather and, at the same time, to communicate the intangible components I sensed in my encounter with the house — the warm welcome, hearty food, hot banya, burning mosquito bites, cool morning breeze, the sound of the accordion, the smell of cooking, the talks, the laughs and the barking of the chained-up dog.” As someone who often works with personal memorabilia archives, the photographer was particularly interested in the house’s decor and objects on display: photographs, books, furniture, posters, items that refer to a particular era or generation. But overall, the project is an intimate snapshot of his host’s personality through her domestic environment, and a documentation of the unlikely friendship they established during Kajoranta’s stay.