I gave birth to my daughter when I was 17 years old. People often say that we look like sisters, and relatives can’t tell one from another when they see us from the back. Everyone says that Lera resembles me in appearance and character. The difference in our ages is not that big, so I thought we could get closer to each other because of that. In difficult communication moments with my mother, I promised myself that I would not be like her. I would be a more sensitive and understanding person. But the older my daughter was getting, the more I realized that I was becoming my mother’s copy. When I was 31, and Lera was 13, our clothes and shoes became of the same size, the game “what if I were you” started between us. It was an experiment to find a new form of “mother teenage daughter” relationships. We have been changing clothes and roles. This wasn’t always a fun game. In these photographs, our attempts to acquire differences resulted in gaining similarities and contrariwise. This project is about recognizing oneself in another person, about the struggle with similarity, about separation, and the general desire to get closer. I asked my daughter to write a text for the project because she is a co-author. Lera thought that one phrase would be enough: “I have eaten my mother”.
Varya Kozhevnikova is a visual artist born in 1988 and based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Varya explores female nature by combining documentary and performative approaches, balancing between fact and fiction, direction, and improvisation. She is a participant in the collective photo and photo-books festivals in Russia and Europe such as Helsinki Photo Festival, Athens Photo Festival, Presence festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lera Pavlikova was born in 2006 and is Varya Kozhevnikova’s daughter. She is a secondary school student in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She worked on the 13.31 project in collaboration with Varya.