By feel

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"By feel" is a series of work about blind and visually impaired children. I believe the beginning stages of the concept for this series came into my mind in my childhood, when I did not yet know that I would become a photographer and filmmaker. When I was a child my best friend was my cousin (who's name is Roman) who happened to be blind. We used to spend a great deal of time together and, thanks to him, I began to see the world from a different perspective. My cousin spent his childhood in a boarding school for the blind and visually impaired children.

In my preparation for this series, I traveled from Canada, my new homeland, back to Russia to start my series in one of the boarding schools.

One of the blind students, named Alina, asked me: "Why are you filming about us? Why not about deaf kids?". I responded: "My cousin is blind therefore his blindness has always been a part of my life. You are somewhat of a mystery to me. For those of us that are able to physically see, all we can do to try and understand what it is like for you, is to close our eyes and imagine endless blackness and darkness, but it would never be the same. It would never give us the true the feeling".

Alina agreed: "Yes, you're right, it wouldn't be the same".

After our conversation, she brought out her accordion and played a very complicated piece called "Ballade" by Burgmuller.

I tried to show exactly this through my lens: There is no stigma, blind and visually impaired children are exactly like us (who have our sight). Many of them are extremely talented and gifted. They can be happy, sad, funny and poignant. Actually, upon second thought in many ways they seem much happier than us. They lack the vanity that many of us have about our appearance, and tend not to be materialistic making their world less cluttered and not full of falsehoods.

I also would like to thank Miroslav Janek for his unique and beautiful film "The unseen" which inspired me to do this series.

This series are to be continued...