Lilia Li-Mi-Yan is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From her project and book ‘ Masters and Servants‘. To see Lilia’s gallery of projects click on any image.
Tatiana, 41 years old. Tatiana was born in Moscow. She graduated from International School of Design. Married, has two children. Tatiana does not work at the moment. She enjoys her life and travels a lot. Her dream is to earn a degree in antiques. Elena, 45 years old. She has a higher education of an airframe engineer. She remarried, her first husband died of alcoholism. Elena has two children – a son and a daughter, her daughter is disabled. She is a real optimist and sure that she has succeeded in life. During last 6 years she has been working as a housemaid.
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?”
Indira, 28 years old. Indira was born in Moscow. She has a university degree in arts and design. Thanks to her husband Indira can afford to take up painting and not to think of earning her life. She desires to fulfill herself as an artist in the West. Igor, 39 years old. Igor was born in Moscow. He graduated from the University for the Humanities. He used to be a technical drawing teacher, a lawyer, a driving instructor, a veterinary. Formerly, he owned a drug store. He has been working for his sister as a driver for last 1.5 year. His dream is to work in the car tuning shop. He also dreams for a quiet slumberous town in the future.
Alexey, 45 years old. Alexey comes from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia. He graduated from Military University. Married in twice. He has three children. Alexey is a former public official. At this time he is a businessman. His hobby is rally. He is keen on extreme sports. Alexey is a devil of work. He dreams the life to be fair. Valentina, 59 years old. Valentina was born in Bryansk, Russia. She graduated from Institute of Agriculture and was qualified as an agronomist. She had been working as a preschool teacher, a nurse, an economist of a private company. Valentina has two sons and three grandchildren. She outweared a great sorrow after the death of her husband. Last 6 years she has been working as a nanny in a Moscow family. Valentina’s children can give her financial support, but she likes her work. Thanks to her employers she had an opportunity to visit a lot of countries.
Liana, 47 years old. She was born in Nefteyugansk, Russia. Liana graduated from Oil and Gas Institute. She is married and has two grown children. She has never worked. Liana enjoys her family life and communication with interest people. She is interested in modern art, theatre, ballet, music, literature, and traveling. Venera, 43 years old. Venera was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She is a pastry-cook. Venera is divorced and has an 11 year-old son. Last 8 years she has been working as a housemaid for her half-cousin. She feels really good being a housemaid and she feels she and her son are loved and cared.
Liana, 36 years old. Liana originally comes from Yerevan, Armenia. Graduated from Yerevan Conservatory (the piano). She was teaching the piano in school. After her second marriage Liana left for Moscow. At present she is a housewife. Flora, 44 years old. Flora was born in Yerevan, Armenia. She holds a degree in arts. At home Flora taught crafts, and then worked in hospital as a nurse. Flora is married and has two children and two grandchildren. Last 2 years she and her husband work in a single-family home in Moscow. Their purpose to earn money to buy an apartment in Yerevan.
Olga, 25 years old. Olga was born in Volzhsk, Russia. She has a university degree and in fashion business. Married and has a lovely kid. Olga wishes to devote her life to delivery and bringing-up of children. Veronica, 48 years old. Veronica hails from the Philippines. She holds a degree in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Married, has four children. Last 4 years she has been working in Moscow as a housemaid. Once a year she goes to the Philippines to see her children and husband. Veronica believes her husband is always waiting for her and never cheating on her.
Vladimir, 62 years old. Vladimir was born in Moscow. He graduated from Moscow Civil Engineering College. Vladimir has been working as a manager in different Moscow companies. When he was 42 he went to business trip to Turkmenistan, where he met and fell in love with woman for which he left his wife. At this time he is retired and enjoys a steady life in a country-house. Vano, 49 years old. Vano was born in Bogdaty, Georgia. He graduated from Polytechnic University and was qualified as a process engineer. He also has a degree in dancing and used to be a part of a folk dance group. After the USSR dissolution he left for Moscow to earn his life. He worked as a foreman in the building company. Last 2 years works with his wife in a single-family home. At the present time he undergoes a cancer treatment.
Svetlana, 39 years old. Svetlana hails from Kalmykia, Russia. She graduated from the Teacher Training University and was qualified as an elementary school teacher. She used to work in school, orphan asylum. She came to Moscow 5 years ago aiming to earn money to pay her son’s education. She has been working as a housemaid. During her living in Moscow she earned a degree in psychology. Several times a week she works as an instructor of spiritual and corporal practices. She wants to give up working as a housemaid, as she believes that the main thing in our life is spiritual practice.
Marina, 47 years old. Marina was born in Moscow and got higher education. Single. She has a grown son. After her husband left her she had to earn her living by herself. She began with trading on stock exchange. At the moment she owns an Architectural firm. She created a design concept for her flat all by herself and designs her wear by herself. Pinky, 34 years old. Albarico hails from the Philippines. She has a university degree in computer engineering. Pinky has 3 children. She was divorced from her husband because of his infidelity. She was waiting for this divorce for 5 years (pursuant to the Philippines legislation divorce proceeding takes 5 years). Her children live in the Philippines with her ex-husband’s mother. Last 6 years she has been working in Moscow as a housemaid. Once a year she goes home to see her relatives.
Irina, 37 years old. Irina was born in Moscow. She graduated from Moscow Academy of Choreography, and then Institute of Arts. Married. Last 9 years she is an art director of the theatre “Yar”. She is going to close her theatre down as the variety show which is its main genre becomes unpopular. Olga, 54 years old. Olga was born in Moscow. She holds a university degree in power economy. Olga has been married for 18 years. After all these years she is no more interested in her husband as a sexual partner. She treats him like a brother. Olga is going to work as a housemaid as long as she in good health.
By Lilia Li-Mi-Yan
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