Student Photo Exhibition: Baba, Babushka.

Student Photo Exhibition: Baba, Babushka.

Photographs by Dasha Bough ('21) and Sky Russell ('20)


A collection of images captured in different places at the same time...

Dasha Bough ('21) spent the summer of 2019 in Volgograd, Russia filming a documentary about a babushka named Galiya. Sky Russell ('20) spent the same summer with the babas (grandmas) and jijis (grandpas) of Tenryu-mura, a rapidly aging rural hamlet in central Japan. Taken together, the exhibit's images and text paint a picture of colorful lives being lived in two very different corners of the world. Although the stories are each unique and settings vastly disparate, the snapshots share the hushed beauty, unassuming poetry, and outrageous humor found in the mundane.

Co-sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.



Click the following links to learn more about Sky's time in Japan and Dasha's time in Russia.


Photograph of weaver
"I think the artwork I produce has changed since I came here. With all the green around - I feel like I've become gentler."



Image of preserved vegetables.
"This root is called 'matatabi.' It makes cats drunk.
​​​​This one is good for high blood pressure."



Collection of picked vegetables
Photograph of pickling jars.
"I've never measured ingredients when making pickles. It's just salt, sugar, and karashi (mustard)."



Photo of the view from a hill.
"I was born right down there. When I married, I moved up here. My husband died last year, so now I live alone. I don't really come just to look at the view. Sometimes I think it's beautiful though, like when the cherry blossoms bloom."



Photo of two women at the door.
"Thank you for the fish but you still cannot come in. Goodbye Zhenya. Yes. Goodbye now."



Image of a woman watching television in her apartment.
"Look at this buffoon. Can you believe he's president? He's hilarious - and pretty nice to look at. But he's not a president. Why can't people just stay in their profession anymore. On the other hand, I do quite like him. He's quite beautiful, don't you think so?"



Two elderly ladies chatting
"Galiya, let me tell you something.
I had to protect these two girls while we were down by the Volga. We were harassed by some gentlemen - just mafia boys. It's because 
this one was strutting around in her swimsuit. I mean they were both attractive boys, so I asked them, 'Where ya from, boys?' They were twirling, spinning, and bending over trying to get the girls on a date. I told them, 'The only girl that's going on a date with you boys, is me.' Bandits. They think I don't know how to protect my girls."



Butcher and elderly woman chatting
"I want you to meet my best friend. This is Artyom. He's the butcher. But mainly he's my best friend, so he gives me the fattiest meat and saves leftover blood for me. He has a belly like a massive watermelon, as you can clearly see. It's because he's a drunk fish."



Man in swimming trunks
"Do you need a rich man, or a smart one, girl?"
"She doesn't need anything!"
"So you don't have men looking after you yet? Babushka, do you believe this?"
​​​​"Yes. She's independent."
"But...what about when she turns 30?"



Elderly man and woman talking
"Where do you go to school pretty thing?"
"She's in America. At Harvard."
"What, are you messing with me? Then she'll just work in America. She'll get used to it, find herself an oligarch and stay there."
"Don't be silly. We have our own Tatar oligarchs."



Elderly man farming
Fan vest
"See this! This vest keeps me cool. It's got fans in it. See here? You can turn it all the way up so that it feels cold."



Two women chatting near a blue wall
Elderly woman in garden clothes
"Oh my god! Nonononono. Don't take a picture of me, I'm in my gardening clothes!"



Contemplative woman
"Someone's phone is ringing."



Elderly woman on the phone
"Daughter. Hello. It's been a day. I taught Dasha some village slang. A few dirty jokes, too.
I know. I'm sorry. But she needs to learn this stuff or they'll know she's American.
I'm trying to help her blend. Just let us do our thing. Lighten up, girl."



Neighbors chatting
"I leave this front door open when it's warm out. I have my friend next door to visit me every day, and today I have the delivery man too - I'm very busy!"



Swimming pool
"In 1998, the elementary school shut down. After that, two of the middle schools merged."


Dog on a walk in the forest
Elderly man in the forest.
"When you've lived here your whole life, you don't see it as beautiful."