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A Raw, Heartbreaking Look into the Life of a 2-Year-Old and her Drug-Addicted Parents

Irina Popova

Lilya with Anfisa on her second birthday.

Irina Popova

Pasha and his friend aggressively partying.

Another Family is Russian photographer Irina Popova‘s deeply intimate and equally intense document of the life of 2-year-old Anfisa and her drug-addicted parents, Lilya and Pasha. The project began in 2008 when Popova happened upon an intoxicated Lilya outside a club in St. Petersburg, pushing Anfisa in a stroller. After talking and photographing the mother and child, Popova was invited back to their apartment where she met Pasha. From there, she photographed the family for the next two weeks in their tiny, rundown apartment that was frequently filled with people coming in and out, parties, and drugs. Popova reveals heartbreaking and unsettling moments—some dangerous—as well as quiet moments of familial love.

The work was shown in a gallery in St. Petersburg and Lilya and Pasha were among the attendees. It was only after Popova began to publish the work on the Internet that Another Family exploded into a highly controversial project. Hundreds of people were outraged at both the parents and photographer, many raising the question of the photographer’s role in such a situation—why hadn’t she intervened, they asked. Popova says; “My caption that there can be also love and affection in such families caused even more hysteria.”

The complete story and further destiny of Anfisa is in Popova’s book Another Family. The book goes into detail about the controversy that ensued, offering an honest analysis of this fascinating and challenging topic. Along with previously unpublished images, the book reveals evidence of public criticism, including written comments from bloggers and private letters Popova received. This publication goes far beyond just a documentary photo book—”it is an essential document dealing with the question all documentary photographers may be confronted with at some time in their careers: ‘can I continue working or should I stop and try to help solve the problem I am witness to?'” Find it here.

Irina Popova

Lilya and Pasha are resting on the pavement after a long period of drug-using and alcohol drinking.

Irina Popova

The parents and their child spend time together.

Irina Popova

Anfisa is playing with the cigarettes of her sleeping mother.

Irina Popova

Anfisa is eating baby’s mix while her parents clean the room after a party.

Irina Popova

Lilya is asking car drivers for money, using her little daughter as an argument to give her money for her child’s food. But at the moment she needs money for alcohol and cigarettes.

Irina Popova

Lilya is returning home from a night party with Anfisa sleeping in a baby pram.

Irina Popova

Pasha kisses his daughter’s feet.

Irina Popova

Anfisa is seemingly in danger as she comes close to the window edge in her parents’ apartment. However, there’s a safety net that is not clearly shown in the picture.

Irina Popova

A stranger hugs Lilya while her daughter looks on with surprise.

Irina Popova

Anfisa was not taken from her parents and is attending kindergarten. Her mother, Lila, left the family. Her father, Pasha, now takes care of Anfisa.

via Bored Panda

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