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In 1952, my grandfather began to lose his vision as a result of being wounded in World War II.
Wanting to return to the place where he grew up, he found an unoccupied hill in a village in the Leningrad region of Russia, close to his brothers, sisters and numerous cousins. He took his house apart, log by log, and floated it down the Oyat river to its new location and reconstructed it. This house, with no running water or heat, is the place where my father and his siblings grew up, all moving to the big city after finishing school.
Now, more than half a century later, the house still stands, occupied by two of my aunts in the warmer months. Having never married, the two women have had to rely on each other for support and companionship throughout their entire lives. Together they plant potatoes, bring water from the well, and chop wood for heating the stove. Aleftina cooks the food, while Ludmila makes their clothing.
I have been spending my summers in the village as well, photographing my aunts quiet occupations, and the small world surrounding them. Their life spent in the routine of chores, handiwork and puzzles seems untouched by the passage of time.
In the series “Two Sisters”, I record the stories of their present-day life, and explore the childhood memories I have of them. Their house remains virtually unchanged in the twenty years I’ve been away. My remembrances play a large role in the images I record now, following the rituals that have come down from several generations and which are becoming lost in much of Russia.
Nadia Sablin was born in the Soviet Union and spent her adolescence in the American Midwest.
After completing an MFA degree at Arizona State University, she now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and St. Petersburg, Russia. Her photographs have been shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Wall Space gallery and Jen Bekman gallery among others.