Anna Skladmann was raised in Germany but, with both parents born in Russia, she grew up surrounded by Russian food and culture. In 2000, she went to Russia for the first time, and was struck by the behaviour of the children there. “We celebrated New Year’s Eve at a fancy ball, and there was this table of children all dressed up as little adults,” she says. “Even in their mannerism, they looked like little adults.”
Skladmann was just 14, but the encounter stuck with her, and after studying photography in Paris and at the Parsons School of Design in New York, she found herself coming back to it. Her series, Little Adults, explores what it feels like to grow up as a privileged child in Russia. “A few years ago, I met an eight-year-old girl at a tea party in an art-deco house in Russia,” she says. “She is always coming up with new ideas and things to tell me about – she knows what she wants and how to get it. When I told her about the project, she loved the idea I would be showing images of her in New York. I started photographing her, then her friends and friends of her friends.”
The series, which has now been published in book form by Kehrer Verlag, “touches on family aspirations, ideas of normality and the loss of childhood”, says Skladmann, who admits her view of these kids has changed.
Initially impressed by their maturity and sheer wealth, she now believes they have a tough time living up to their families’ expectations. “For a lot of them, it’s hard – they have been raised to become the elite,” she says. “I plan on photographing them again in 10 years to show that transition, to show what they have become.”
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