Interview with Elena Anosova

Interview with

Elena Anosova

1st Prize in 2016

Elena Anosova is a documentary photographer based near Lake Baikal, Russia. The solitude of this remote location is the inspiration for many of Elenas works.

The main themes I work with are: isolation and closed social groups. Another reason why I choose these subjects comes from my personal background.

How did you get into photography?

In 2013, I started studying documentary photography at Rodchenko Photography and Multimedia School in Moscow and graduated in 2016. Before then I worked with paintings and design.

Which contemporary photographers inspire you?

It depends on time. Sophie Calle – I respect her work a lot.

Please tell us a bit about your series „Section“.

For my first project, I photographed women–prisoners in Siberia. When I was 12, I spent more than 3 years in a closed boarding school. That is why I have decided to work with closed institutions. I spend a year and a half on this project. It took 8 months to get permissions and more than 2,5 months I was shooting.

I photographed newcomers and mature prisoners. I worked only with women. And made near 200 portraits. I was interested in the important process of deformation of personality that no matter what, happens in a closed institution. We don’t think about it, but there – all the time – no privacy and safety.

Elena Anosova
From „Section“ by Elena Anosova

In such places you cannot stay alone, you are all the time under surveillance. You have to follow not only official rules but also informal protocols. Outside these walls, in our everyday life, you can cover yourself with a blanket and hide, feeling safety. But in the bedroom where another 50 people live, everyone can remove your blanket just to have a look at the color of your underwear.

Our society stigmatizes everything connected with the prison. But by staying in jail my characters don’t stop to be mothers, sisters, teachers, loved ones, grandparents, or just cute girls or personalities. Often if they don’t receive support, upon their release, in most of the cases they return to prison. That’s why I started with the portraits of young girls special photographed in a different uniform and for the first time, we cannot understand who they are.

The sequence of my work goes from youth to old age, from the color to the greyness, making deformation more obvious with each frame.

Find out more about Elena Anosova and her award winning series here: