“Julia Wannabe” is a project that shows my daughter Julia growing up.

My purpose was to search for sources of a woman’s identity and to explore the moment when a girl becomes a woman. There is something ambiguous and perturbing in this transition. Popular culture pictures childhood as a land of happiness: sweet and innocent. Our memory also tends to wipe any flaws off this image.

Shooting Julia, I wanted to look at the process of growing up in a more complex way. It is not a reportage, a diary or a family album, but an attempt to capture the universality of this period. It is also a photographic reinterpretation of a psychological process of transferring — a photographic image is the result of Julia’s experience and my memory of it.

The title of the project is a reference to “Madonna wannabe” phenomenon. Girls who listen to Madonna’s music dress up and use make-up to look exactly like her. With these external attributes they try to discover the essence of being Madonna, the essence of femininity she embodies. Paradoxically, it helps them to express themselves.

—Anna Grzelewska

Editors’ note: Anna Grzelewska is one of the 50 best emerging photographers for 2015, as voted by the eight-member international jury for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2015. Here is her winning entry and her artist’s statement. View her profile to learn more about her and to see more of her great work.