Icon and mirror
The "Icon and Mirror" project is a photography series that explores the complex relationship between Russian Orthodoxy and the role of women in society. While historically inseparable, the role of women in the church and wider society has become a topic of scrutiny in recent years. Despite advances in women's rights, traditional gender roles are still strictly enforced in the world of Orthodoxy.
The project focuses on the city of Voronezh, located in the heart of Russia, where the heritage of Russian traditions is passed on from one generation to another. Here, Orthodox organizations and communities are plentiful, and the role of women in the church is particularly important. The project aims to highlight the discrepancy between the idealized image of the Virgin Mary and the real-life treatment of women in the church.
Over the course of four years, I have interviewed and photographed women from various Orthodox activities. The women are active in teaching the knowledge of God and striving to serve, but their active positions often contradict their roles assigned by tradition, and they are constantly competing. The oldest theological seminary in Russia is also located in Voronezh, where the students of icon painting, and choir conductors' faculties are all girls.
Through this project, I seek to show that women are under pressure due to cultural and religious norms that often translate into false rules. Women are expected to be humble, and this expectation is reflected in all areas of their lives. The project aims to provoke discussions around the intersection of society and religion and the ways in which these forces influence each other. Ultimately, I hope to challenge the traditional role of women in the church and encourage greater empowerment for women in Russian society.
In addition to collecting images of women involved in various Orthodox activities, I also conducted a series of interviews with these women. Through these interviews, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of their personal experiences and the challenges they faced as Orthodox women in Russian society. Many of these stories were filled with themes of subjugation and feeling relegated to a second role within the church and wider society.
2020 | Icon and Mirror, KirchenKAI Gallery, Kiel, Germany
2019 | Lockvögel, Baby!, group exhibition, HFBK Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
Short List, Felix Schoeller Photo Award “Best Work by an Emerging Photographer” 2019
Short List, Boutographies 2019