Cold hands, warm hearts: an artist explores her grandparents’ kindness in the community

Dinner is served in the basements and garrets by Moscow-based artist Liza Chukhlantseva focusses on people who, although marginalised, dedicate their lives to helping others. Chukhlantseva went back to her native Kazan to photograph her grandparents, babulya Tanya and dedulya Volodya, who for the past 20 years have fed the stray dogs and other animals in the neighbourhood. In the evenings they collect bones and bread from neighbours and prepare meat and fish to feed to the animals at 5am the next day. They buy medicine for their neighbours in return for the scraps. Soviet-era playgrounds serve as the backdrop for some of these photos. Unchanging through the years, they are a juncture for generations past and present. Chukhlantseva, too, unites different generations by juxtaposing photographs of her grandparents with her childhood drawings, and comparing the humble deeds of the elderly to children’s wishes and dreams. “My drawings pay tribute to the hope that every child cherishes for an ideal world which exists only in the reality of the elderly,” the artist says. In doing so, Chukhlantseva rethinks traditional documentary photography: rather than record reality, she constructs her own documents in which photographs and childish scrawls have equal value.