Enjoy Prizewinning “Aunties,” On View at the Rubenstein Photography Gallery

Photograph by 2014 First Book Prize in Photography winner Nadia Sablin, from “Aunties.”

Photograph by 2014 First Book Prize in Photography winner Nadia Sablin, from “Aunties”

Through February 28, 2016: An exhibition of Nadia Sablin’s photographs, Aunties: The Seven Summers of Alevtina and Ludmila, is on view at the Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery, Duke University. A book of the same name was published in November 2015 by Duke University Press and CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies.

In 2014, Nadia Sablin was chosen by renowned curator and historian Sandra S. Phillips to win the seventh biennial Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography for her color series documenting, as Sablin writes, “the lives of my aunts who live in Northwest Russia. Alevtina and Ludmila are in their seventies but carry on the traditional Russian way of life, chopping wood for heating the house, bringing water from the well, planting potatoes, and making their own clothes.” Among other benefits, the freelance photographer receives a solo exhibition and publication of a book of photography.

+ View a gallery of images on the First Book Prize website
+ Read more about Sablin’s prizewinning project on The New Yorker blog Photo Booth and on The Guardian and Photo District News (PDN) websites.
+ Listen to an interview with Sablin on WUNC public radio’s “The State of Things”

“In these photographs, I record the stories of their lives, and explore the childhood memories I have of them,” Sablin writes of her aunts, who over the seven years of Sablin’s ongoing project began to collaborate with her in reinterpreting her memories and in creating new ones. These images combine observation and invention, biography and autobiography, and are thoughtful meditations on aging and belonging. Sablin’s quiet and lyrical photographs capture the small details and daily rituals of her aunts’ surprisingly colorful and dreamlike days, taking us not only to another country but another time. Alevtina and Ludmila seem both old and young in these images, as if time itself was as seamless and cyclical as their routines—sewing curtains, making quilts, tatting lace, planting seeds, weeding their garden—and as full of the same subtle mysteries.

Nadia Sablin, a native of Russia, is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, whose work has been featured in such publications as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Moscow Times, Slate, andAmerican Photo, among others. Her photographs have been seen in solo and group exhibitions across the U.S. Go to her website for more information.

The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is awarded by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Honickman FoundationFollowing her solo exhibition, Sablin’s photographs will be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Library.

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