New East Digital Archive

Growing pains: defining moments from childhood to adolescence

21 August 2015

Irina Yulieva’s project Grazed Knees is set in the village called Bolshoy Sabsk not far from St Petersburg where the photographer used to spend every summer of her childhood and adolescence. The three long months of school holidays were the time for roaming in the countryside, for teenage dramas, bruises and grazes, for embracing the changes of tender age. In 2009 Yulieva returned to the village with her children, and started shooting their adventures in the wilderness, wistfully recalling her own teenage years. However, the project is not just about the freedoms of youth but about gaining life experience — sometimes through pain. “This is a story of how we keep stumbling, falling and grazing our knees throughout our whole lives,” explains the photographer. “In childhood we fall because we’re clumsy or are too young to walk properly. But during adolescence we fall because we’re looking for our own way. As adults we keep falling either because we choose to, or because we’re tripped over or knocked down.” The project is shot in a deliberately amateur way using a digital point and shoot Samsung, Contax T2 and Konica Hexar. Yulieva even kept the dates in the corners of the photographs: it makes the project seem all the more sincere, and remind us of how the joys and growing pains of adolescence are shared by everyone.