/ Varya Kozhevnikova / Photo story

I’m not sure

In my youth, my knowledge about sex was limited by impressions from watching hidden parents VHS-tapes and girlfriends’ stories. I was sure that sex is a necessary procedure for entering adulthood, so I formally got rid of my virginity as from an obstacle. When I noticed how my daughter turns into a young woman, I suddenly realized: losing of virginity is an important event which effects on whole life. I did it “wrong”. To reduce my anxiety, I began to collect other women’s stories about the loss of virginity and turned it into a project.

In interviews, women were recalling their first time and were analyzing the connection of past experience with the present. After listening to stories, I realized that I don’t want to take just a portrait, I want to make an ideal photo. I planned everything: found locations similar to places from stories, prepared storyboards and borrowed an expensive medium format camera to take the pictures. For each woman, I created poses which should have to express to the viewer the essence of her experience. My need for perfection came to the point of absurdity: I tried poses on my assistant or on myself before putting the character in a frame; I photographed portraits on film after I had insured with a digital camera. I was doing a lot of shots for choosing the one from. Any deviation from the script oppressed me.

After the end of filming, when I was choosing in doubt the best photos, I recalled my photos with rehearsals. I’ve combined them with portraits of characters and have seen how the new visual series is becoming a form of control over the memory, the image and over the fear of making a mistake. My trying to recreate and relive someone’s memory acquired the ironic image of a person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. He constantly and unsuccessfully tries to get rid of anxiety through obsessive and tiring actions, piles up the ways and finally can refuse to make a decision at all.

Varya Kozhevnikova (1988) is a Russian visual artist and photographer who has studied at the Academy of Documentary Photography and Photojournalism in St. Petersburg.