The story begins in the colony for first time offenders and then moves to colony for repeat offenders and a settlement colony. Both young girls, who are still quite uncertain about their future in the first time offenders colony and women who have been marked by being jailed several times in the repeat offenders colony present themselves in a way that changes the viewer’s idea of life in prison.
“I came there as an artist, because I wanted to answer some questions about my childhood. But there was also a shift in my perception of these women as time went by, and I realized I wanted to bring attention to the social problems that these women face,” Elena explains as she revisits her experience during this project.
The Russian penitentiary system doesn’t have an effective infrastructure needed to support people who are released from jail. This is especially hard for female prisoners because crimes committed by women usually are the result of years of violence towards her or her children. They are deeply scarred both psychologically and socially and are labeled as ‘criminals’. Most of them, once entering the system, are forced to commit consequent crimes because when released, they have no means to find a job or fit in a society.
Prison is like a small model of our society, but we tend to think of it as a different planet,” the author concludes. ”I shot the series so as to draw attention to the fact that these women need to be rehabilitated after they are released, and need help reintegrating into society.”
‘Section’ was awarded the granв prix of the Andrey Stenin International Competition for Photojournalists, and won the documentary prize at the Baltic Biennale for Photography.