I gave birth to my daughter Lera 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.
At times, I found it difficult to talk with my mother. I promised myself 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 own mother.
The year I became 31, and Lera 13, we began to wear the same sized clothes and shoes. We started playing a game we called, ‘what if I were you?’, swapping clothes and roles. It was an experiment to find a new form of mother-teenage-daughter relationships, but it wasn’t always a fun game.
In these photographs, our attempts to acquire differences resulted in us producing similarities, and vice versa. This project is about the recognizing oneself in another person, about the struggle with similarity, about separation, and the 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, based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kozhevnikova explores female nature by combining documentary and performative approaches, balancing between fact and fiction, direction and improvisation. She is a participant of collective photo and photo-books festivals in Russia and Europe such as Helsinki Photo Festival, Athens Photo Festival, Presence festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her works were published in YET Magazine, FK Magazine and others.
Lera Pavlikova is Varya Kozhevnikova’s daughter, born in 2006. She is a secondary school student in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She worked on the project 13.31 in collaboration with Kozhevnikova.