Daily Life - NOMINEE: Mary Gelman
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In Russia, people have a lot of prejudice towards people with mental disorders.
They are not considered full-fledged people with abilities to learn and socialize,
they stay unemployed. But there is a place where everything is different.
«Svetlana» is a unique social village in Russia, Leningrad Oblast. This Сamphill
gives an opportunity for people with different mental disorders to live free and be
supported by tutors and volunteers. However, for the residents these roles mean
nothing. This place is not a boarding school or a clinic. No one is controlled and
the doors are always opened. Residents don’t draw a line between «healthy» —
«unhealthy», «normal» – «abnormal». Everyone is valued as an individual.
Capabilities and abilities are the only things that matter. Residents believe in the
person, you can become in spite of your past time.
«Svetlana» is the community of nearly 40 residents. They live in four large houses,
have a garden, a farm, a bakery, a carpentry etc. The residents are living off the
subsistence farming and work despite their differences. Villagers are served five
meals a day, visit sauna on weekends and do the plays on holidays. People with
special needs are free to go out, work, have friends and fall in love. They can
realize themselves in any employment or creative activities. For example, at first
some residents could not even hold a spoon, but now bake bread for all the
habitants of the village or get engaged in the performances.
Mary Gelman is a VII Photo Agency Member photographer based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
In 2016 she graduated School of Modern Photography Docdocdoc (Saint - Petersburg) and was a participant in various international and local workshops. She works as a photojournalist and teacher. The most important part of her professional life is personal projects. She explores the larger world through close personal narratives. Mary focuses on a study of issues of gender and body, boundary and identity, discrimination and the human relationship with the environment.
Mary has been a winner of different competitions. She's the recipient of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, Portraits - Hellerau Photography Award, Istanbul Photo Awards, Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest.