New East Digital Archive

Hometown glory: can photography help us reconnect with the familiar?

17 September 2021

Photography is often perceived as a form of exploration, a way to see the world in a different light. But this exploration isn’t limited to places which are new, foreign, and unfamiliar. For Daria Piskareva, photography has become a way to reflect on belonging and the complex notion of home.

“When we’re young, we often dream of leaving home. We find our surroundings boring and overly familiar. I was no exception,” she says. “Now I return more and more to the places connected to my childhood. I roam for hours, camera at hand, and discover them anew.”

Piskareva’s latest series — fittingly called Home — is based on these adventures. As a whole, it is a visual journey into the nature of intimacy a person develops with a certain place. “I find a lot of beauty and open space in my hometown, but what makes it special is the connection with this place. We grow like trees, take roots, get intertwined with memory, become part of the locations – both leaving traces and finding traces of the place within us,” the photographer says.

The series is a collection of observations, places, and feelings, textured and poetic. It is an ode to love and beauty thriving in overlooked places. It is also a documentation of the complex emotions that the concept of home can evoke. “With age, we get more of an understanding of how important it is to have a place which you could identify as home and accept it as it is in all honesty, with all its flaws.”

Growing up in a small village south of St Petersburg, Piskareva picked up a camera as a teenager. From the very beginning of her career, she has been drawn to find inspiration in the mundane, or through the quiet and mindful observation of her surroundings. In her series The Rudiment, she photographed discarded relics of the recent past she came across while heading to work: broken TVs, old mobile phones, plastic bags abandoned in the fields and ponds. Regardless of the presumed value (or lack thereof) of each photographed object, Piskareva always treats it with care, a sense of the precious, and wonder.

“Photography is a way of communicating with the world, which allows me to ask questions and get answers. It enables me to find a connection with the reality that surrounds me,” says Piskareva. “I haven’t parted from my camera or left the house without it for years. It helps me to be attentive, notice things, explore, and share those discoveries.”