Women of Lilith

Photographer Janna Tatarova tries to capture the elusive and turbulent ideal of femininity.

Moscow-based photographer Janna Tatarova uses the liberating force of nature to highlight the ever-evolving beauty ideal. Her camera is a tool through which she can express her psycho-emotional state and affix moments to memory.

In my work I explore femininity and the representation of female beauty. What is it? For me, a kind of meta-woman exists, the most mature and most beautiful, whom everyone tries to emulate through make-up, medical procedures, clothes, Instagram. Every fleeting glimpse in the mirror is a connection with this ideal image. While universal, such an ideal is constantly evolving through fashion and culture. Such an ideal is elusive.

I recently came across “The Book of Lilith,” which tells the story of Adam’s first wife, who was rejected by him for her disobedience. The legend speaks of the original spirit of womankind, for which neither Adam nor God the creator had any use. Her spirit was doomed to wander for all eternity, never finding a place in womankind. There are women-mothers, women-daughters, women-lovers. But where is Lilith’s place? Such an image is often demonized, but it’s important to me that such a femininity exists – free from any social role.

I once visited Georgia with some girlfriends, one of whom was suffering from severe depression. The two of us would often visit waterfalls or the hills, where we could spend hours in solitary silence. I took numerous photos of her, inspired by her inner turbulence and her intense search for self and purpose. We felt most at home in nature – as if we were no longer controlled by anything, with no observers to determine what behavior is considered normal.

The city dweller’s initial reaction when entering nature is to relax, to indulge in physical pleasure. But sometimes being in nature becomes an experience of extreme isolation. You can feel completely unified with your surroundings, losing all your senses except for sight. When experiencing this, I lose even the desire to take photos. I was once sitting on the shore and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets. In the end I photographed the sight not because it was beautiful, but simply to affix it to memory. At moments like that, you understand that photography is a means of recording something in your memory and expressing your psycho-emotional state in a visual form.