Elena Ovchinnikova

“Stepmother”

Mythological scenarios have been given to us since birth: in the voice of an adult
who reads a bedtime story and through popular gender-oriented animated films in mass cinema. They are aggressive and demanding. They sprout readymade schemes and
invest unnoticed in an undreamlike life. Therefore mythology offers a certain set of
female images and scenarios. A common motif in Western European mythology was
the opposition of a caring and loving mother and a cold, evil, insatiable stepmother and,
in turn, a defenceless and virtuous stepdaughter. The feminine qualities of a tree are
also a motif, arising as a source of life, giving fruit and becoming a place of shelter.
The works details how it is to be a stepmother, to love somebody else’s child every
day, and to be angry that somebody from the outside has violated the already fragile
order of things with their intrusion. There is a reflection on one’s own life, sensations
and experiences associated with the attempts to relinquish fairytale-like tragedies.
Escaping from forged maternity, from responsibility and fear, I find myself in the woods
amongst the trees, myself becoming like a girl – the heroine in a fairytale, persecuted by
evil forces. On the branches, I find magic objects – lost children’s things, carefully
collecting them in hope of finding something that was found to be deprived. Losing to
new family scenarios, I linger on moments of alienation which are inevitable in the
relationships of close people. Again, I am convinced that it is impossible to slip away
from the power of one over another, based on the fact that between relatives exists
something that is impossible to see.
With the help of photography, I am constructing a pregnancy, looking for the
missing source of maternal love. I paint children’s things in coloured light, illuminated bysunlight. In the process of creating join portraits, I form a model of relationships, againmaking sure that each depends on how much one chooses to invest in it.

Elena Ovchinnikova is a Russian photographer

© Elena Ovchinnikova