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Masters & servants

Lilia Li-Mi-Yan

Published on 16/04/15

© Lilia Li-Mi-Yan

In rich houses Ser­vice Per­son­nel such as maids, but­lers, cooks and garden­ers have been work­ing at all times. All those pro­fes­sions took their places in world ser­vice industry, but in Rus­sia those pro­fes­sions are still second qual­ity occupations.

For applic­ants these types of work are some­thing tem­por­ary, even a little bit shame­ful. Employ­ers, in their turn, want to find someone who will do qual­ity work. They eval­u­ate pro­fes­sional skills of an applic­ant, real­iz­ing and sug­gest­ing that per­sonal prob­lems and issues of ser­vants should be left behind.

And the moment comes when a new and yet abso­lutely unknown per­son appears in the life of a fam­ily, a per­son who should become irre­place­able as well as invis­ible, a per­son who will know daily routine bet­ter than any­one and at the same time will keep silence. He had and has his own life and abil­ity to hide it is an import­ant ele­ment of his pro­fes­sion­al­ism, which allows him to keep distance.

Where is the edge when shown interest of one and hos­pit­ab­il­ity of another do good, keep­ing mean­while a cer­tain bar­rier, safety and inde­pend­ence bar­rier? After all, know­ledge leads to attach­ment, but that’s an abso­lutely dif­fer­ent story.

There are stor­ies of house own­ers and their ser­vants. I didn’t change their places, show­ing their daily life. I wanted to lift the veil, put­ting in the fore­ground ques­tions, “Who are these people?” “Where are they from?” “Where did they study?” “Do they have a fam­ily” “Why are they here?”

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