The affectionate Kalpana – my story of class mobility

Swift and total wealth accumulation is a 21st century phenomenon in the developing world. Jari Silomäki says that people who have experienced upward class mobility have been underrepresented in the documentary arts. As a result, he says, the way such people are depicted in popular culture is often very one-sided: saturated with capitalism and the worship of money. The story of Anita from Russia inspired Silomäki to tackle the subject, and he became acquainted with the experiences of upwardly mobile people from seven different countries between 2017-2020. What he discovered was a treasure trove of life stories, each one totally unique.

Anita escaped from her mafioso husband, fleeing from a little Siberian village to Moscow, where she started a successful beauty business. The casteless Sojor was forced into marriage in a Bombay slum at age twelve, but became fabulously rich after many twists and turns. Later in life she has focused on helping women and jobless youths through her charity organization.

The series of artworks comprises the stories of twenty individuals or families. They were photographed in their own homes using artificial light, after sunset. The people’s histories are written over the images as if as a signature, in each person’s own handwriting and their own native language.