Russian photographer Alla Mirovskaya takes a sensitive look at the invisible intimacy of her familial relationships in the self-published and handmade book Distant & Close. Inspired by the idea of what it means to photograph something which is not visible to the human eye – namely relationships between people – Mirovskaya compiles here a selection of 24 images alongside text messages sent between her and her mother. Rather than focusing on grand or defining events, she instead presents scenes from daily life: the humdrum of family.
The images offer sensuous colour: portraits of her family members around the house, a small stack of folded laundry on top of an ironing board, a cat curled up by the door next to a couple of pairs of shoes, a close-up of the stained keys of a piano. They are imbued with loving attention, and speak to the great emotion that can fill small and pointless objects in a family home. The text messages are meanwhile brilliantly selected for their emptiness and efficiency, for example: “At Oktyabrskaya. Will be there in 30 min." and “Did some fishing with Yuri yesterday. Going to pick mushrooms today." The lushness of emotion experienced in the images is thus counterbalanced with the muted feeling of minutiae.
A relatively thin and light book, Distant & Close is cleverly designed with pages folded over that when opened reveal hidden images or text messages. This tactile functionality gives the sensation of constantly discovering secrets hiding in plain sight, the things which family members often cannot speak about openly. And yet, the things which are hidden are no more private than the rest: an old key, a lock of hair. The result is delicate without being sentimental. Distant & Close convincingly presents a document of loving family relations that steers clear of idealisation by rooting itself in the requisite obligations and boring routines of domesticity.
Distant & Close is produced in an edition of only 30 and is available in Russian (20 copies) and English (10 copies). It's available for sale online.