Roxana Savin

‘I’ll be late tonight’

‘‘I’ll be late tonight’ is a project which I made while living in a gated expatriate residence in Russia. In 2012 I relocated with my family to Russia for my husband’s job, and moved into a secluded housing community, hosting expatriates from different countries. In this community, men were typically breadwinners and the women, who quit their jobs in their own countries to support their husbands’ careers abroad, became housewives.

Spouses who move abroad for their partners’ careers are called ‘dependants’ on their visas. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 84% of the expatriate spouses are women. I have a legal background, and for me, just as for other women in the community, the shift to becoming a housewife was related to becoming a mother. Living in the expatriate community as a housewife and stay at home mother, I felt conflicted towards feeling privileged and the compromises I made by giving up my personal aspirations. I found that being economically dependent on the spouse changes the power balance in marital relationships and is overall, a disempowering experience. The negative societal perception on being a housewife lowered my sense of self-worth.

I thought that, in many respects, the expatriate community, where women were defined in narrow roles as housewives and mothers, was a reflection of the power structures in capitalist society, and of the interplay between gender, class and race in creating social inequality. In that community, men dominated the senior corporate jobs, while their family related responsibilities were largely fulfilled by women. Given the strong societal expectations that women are primarily caregivers, capitalism assigns the unpaid domestic and reproductive work largely to women, preventing them from participating fully, as peers, in the labour market.

Throughout the book, images are punctuated by texts that give an insight into my experience and reflect on how the different voices in our lives are shaping behaviour. The way women are represented in mass media, with the disproportionate emphasis on beauty and on their role as family nurturers, contributes to reinforcing the existing societal norms and stereotypes. It pressures women to conform to gendered expectations and to internalise behaviour that encourages the perpetuation of the same gender-biased hierarchy.

Making this work was therapeutic and a self-reflective journey. For me it was also a way to express feelings that were not openly discussed in the community. The pressure of perfection and of projecting the image of success, extending to femininity, home and an idealised nuclear family, made me survey my own constructed identity in relation with others.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Roxana Savin is a photographic artist born in Romania, currently based in Switzerland. Savin’s personal experience as a migrant informed her interest in space, the relationship between place and identity and how in the context of migration, social forces and individual experiences can redefine previous notions of identity. Roxana is interested in the situation of women in contemporary society and the challenges they face in balancing societal expectations in terms of family and personal development.

Savin has a law degree and retrained as a photographer while living in Russia. She studied photography at Fine Art School of Photography Moscow (2016-2018) and was awarded a MA Photography with Distinction by Falmouth University UK (2020). She was nominated as one of GUP 100 Talents (to be published in FreshEyes 2021). Her project ‘I’ll be late tonight’ was selected among Best Projects of 2020 by Phmuseum. Savin’s work was exhibited in Romania and was featured in British Journal of Photography, Photomonitor, ArtDoc magazine, Birdinflight, Edge of Humanity magazine.

Savin’s self-published monograph ‘I’ll be late tonight’, was shortlisted at Untitled Dummy Awards Russia 2020.