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Tamara the Mailwoman

Annotation by Kristina Sholokhova

The photo/video story “Tamara” tells the story of an elderly woman who has given the last 40 years of her life to working at the post office. The route of this frail 80-year-old woman is 30 kilometers of dusty or snow-covered road in one day, where half of the way is our native off-road…

Tamara makes her way twice a week and receives a miserable salary of 3,000 rubles, which is a sizeable supplement to her pension in rural areas… In recent years, one of Tamara's friends, who is also a pensioner and an agile driver of an old Niva, has decided to help the post office employee and has been giving her regular rides to the post office. Tamara still travels the remaining 15 kilometers on her own, carrying a huge backpack.

For her it is not just a job, not just a living, but life itself: “as long as you can walk” - you need to keep moving. Her hardy character was formed since childhood: the evacuation, the hardships of war and the post-war period. In 1942 her mother died of typhoid fever, her father was at the front till the end of the war. As a five-year-old girl Tamara and her 14-year-old sister were left alone, having escaped the children's home by a miracle. Fortunately, her father returned alive and well, and a new life had already begun, with her stepmother…

Tamara was trained as an agronomist and in the mid-1950s she was transferred from her native Bryansk Region to Kaluga Region. She married and had two children. Her husband worked as a tractor driver, but for 25 years she has been running her own farm, keeping a cattle yard and a vegetable garden.

Tamara Dmitrievna is a respected and well-known person in several villages and in fact a unique and irreplaceable employee, no one agrees to work on such conditions, for all this time there were no willing replacements.

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Art director of LitKabinet gallery Kristina Sholokhova

“I am grateful to Ivan for his participation in the project. Without hesitation, he supported the idea of the exhibition and quickly arrived, overcoming the difficult path of 180 km by train to shoot a photo story about the unusual village letter carrier Tamara Dmitrievna Egorova. The result met our expectations. Our joint efforts helped us to shoot what is called “outgoing nature" in cinematography”.

The small “office”, similar to the similar 11000 rural post offices, most likely will soon be closed due to unprofitability. The small village staff will lose their modest earnings, and one more of the many strings that make up Russia Post's vast network will be torn.

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A comment from me, the author of the photos of this project

I shot it as well as I could, as I usually do. It came out strong, I think. It won't be long before there's no more paper mail.

When that happens, 20 years from now, when there is nothing to eat but the Internet will be everywhere, come see the project about the daily journey of Tamara, the mailwoman from the provinces.

I, along with Christina, lived one day with Tamara. I remember the newspaper October. I remember Tamara with her cell phone and her confident gait. "Fuck you geese!" And actually the steppe and woods through which Tamara walked and delivered pensions and mail. I remember my heavy breathing at the beginning of Christina's film. How did it hit the camera?

Next came the opening of the exhibition with Ivan Orlov's photographs and Kristina Sholokhova's film. There weren't many visitors, but they were all friendly.

Movie (8 minutes 21 seconds, russian language):

Photo Story

A Report From the Opening of the Exhibition

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