Hardcover with dust jacket, 120 pages, 300 x 323 mm
Shot in seven prisons in Ukraine and Russia over the course of six years, Sailboats and Swans explores what it means to be locked and constantly watched. Chelbin's portraiture is renowned for its visual contrasts—old and new, odd and ordinary, fantasy and reality—and for unmasking the legendary qualities not immediately apparent in individuals.
The title refers to the idiosyncratic and almost mocking, bucolic, and fantastical murals and wallpaper backgrounds she found throughout the prisons. These contradictions of life in prison abound in girls' flowery dress uniforms, murderers working as nannies to other women's babies in the new mothers' prison, young girls serving time alongside grandmothers—perhaps witness to their own futures, and the mesmerizing human blend of fear and cruelty, where zombie-like bodies try to survive being locked up in a world devoid of hope.