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Sam Owens September 11, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ohio University, United States.
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Belpre Christian Academy. Ohio 2013

Sam Owens (b. 1992, United States) is a graduate of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, where she studied Photojournalism and Anthropology. Growing up in a blended family made her inherently interested in the relationships blossoming and wilting around her. Photography is a tool that has allowed her the opportunity to be more than a curious observer. She seeks to document her interactions with others or their bonds with the world around them, while using whatever device is at hand to record moments of connectedness. She has worked for the Evansville Courier & Press in Evansville, Indiana, for the Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia, and as a full-time assistant for freelance photographer Matt Eich in Norfolk, Virginia. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, while working as photography intern for the Tampa Bay Times.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken during my last semester at Ohio University in September 2013. At the beginning of the school year, I was driving to the Washington County Fair in Marietta, Ohio, when I noticed a small grey and blue building on the side of the road as I was driving though the small town of Belpre, Ohio, along U.S. Route 50. That building happened to be Belpre Christian Academy, a private K-12 Christian school that has a religious curriculum that runs similar to a homeschooling program. I affectionately liked to think of it as a modern one-room school house. The school registers as a non-profit, and survives off of money made through donations, fundraising and student tuition prices.”

“I was initially drawn to photographing in the school because the school experience these kids were getting was completely different than my own. My mother has been a public school teacher all of my life, so naturally I went to public school. I did not grow up with a heavy religious background and the high school I went to housed over 2,600 students, which led to my graduating class being well over 650 people. This past 2013-2014 school year there were 34 students at BCA, from first to twelve grade, enrolled in the school; no kindergarteners were enrolled and only one graduating senior.”

In this particular picture, the faculty and students were participating in a daily morning prayer, which happens right after the bell rings and school is officially in session. The faculty members strived to create a calm and quiet nature at the beginning of each school day with morning prayers. I wanted to capture the mood of the quiet morning routines, which usually got pushed aside for much more active moods and activities once lunch time rolled around.”

Lawrence Sumulong September 8, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Philippines.
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Inmates and their family gather for portraits inside Leyte Provincial Jail. Palo, Philippines 2014

Lawrence Sumulong (b.1987, United States) is a Filipino American photographer based in New York City and Manila. He received his B.A. from Grinnell College and studied contemporary American poetry under scholar and writer, Ralph Savarese. Among others, his work has been shown by The New Yorker: Photo Booth, Le Monde’s M Magazine, the Jorge B. Vargas Museum, the Milk Gallery, Chobi Mela VI, and his postcard series for the publication, Abe’s Penny, is in the permanent collection of the MoMA Library. His documentary work explores the idea of alterity within the Filipino culture and diaspora.

About the Photograph:

“I took this photo on an assignment which required me to verify whether families of inmates were continuing to live inside Leyte Provincial Jail in Palo, Philippines. I was collaborating with the journalist, Aya Lowe, who had originally broke the news that inmates and their families were seeking shelter in the jail after the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda. Leading up to my trip, there was word that access was restricted and the families had long since relocated. Since my fixer had went to school with many of the wardens, I was able to gain entrance and spend a few hours inside.”

“To my surprise, all of the families had continued to commingle alongside the inmates and wardens. Allegedly, I was the first Filipino American to ever set foot within the compound. With a water purifying system, electricity, rations, a sick ward, and security, the jail arguably provided more amenities than what one could find outside of the walls of the jail in the post-Yolanda landscape. Even more surprisingly, a woman who was related to one of the inmates even ran a vegetable stand in the middle of the prison, which gave the appearance of a local store that one might find in a small neighborhood or barangay.”

“During the family portrait sessions, the presence of family members made it difficult to ascertain and comprehend the crimes that the inmates had been accused of. I was told that petty crimes such as robbery and drug trafficking were the main culprits. However, upon looking at the makeshift release forms that I had asked each family and inmate to sign, murder and rape were the most prevalent. With the loss of court records due to the typhoon, the judicial process has been completely crippled and the future of all of the inmates and the livelihoods of their families lies lost in limbo.”

Andrei Nacu September 4, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Romania.
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My Father. Iasi, Romania 2011

Andrei Nacu (b. 1984, Romania) recently graduated with an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport and while studying for his BA at the University of Arts, Iasi he received an Erasmus scholarship to attend the Press and Editorial Photography course at Falmouth University. In 2013 he  was selected by The Photographers’ Gallery for the Fresh Faced+Wild Eyed exhibition and will be part of the Guernsey Photography Festival 2014. In his creative practice he is using family photography and archive photos to create stories which analyze the junction between personal memory and social history. Andrei is based in London.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is of my father in his apartment in Iasi that is part of my project In the Forsaken Garden Time is a Thief. The story is a subtle insight into a couple’s daily life in contemporary Romania. In examining their struggle to absorb and cope with some of the traumatic political and social shifts of the last 50 years, their relationship becomes an analogy for the disillusionment and dissatisfaction that marked these decades. The context, the environment that my parents are in and the history that they have been subjected to is really important and the challenge was to tell that story that is simultaneously personal but also general in relation with the social and political context.”

“Once, my father entered my room and he said: How can I explain this thing… may I sit for a bit? I wanted a little bit of rest… I don’t know how to explain to you the fatigue, I don’t know how you could explain to yourself the fatigue. There is a kind of fatigue that you could never explain, because you didn’t live those pieces of life that I have lived. But this is nothing… good night! I’m going to sleep. I don’t think that you could ever tell me that there is something beautiful as long as everything else is in dark. Not the beauty of the fact of being… May I go to sleep? Thank you very much!”

Jim Lommasson September 1, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Arturo Franco, Willsonville Oregon 2005

Jim Lommasson (b. 1950, USA)  is a freelance photographer and author living in Portland, Oregon. Jim received the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for his American Fight Club series. Lommasson’s first book, Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & The Will To Survive In American Boxing Gyms was published in 2006. He is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about American Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their lives after their return from war called Exit Wounds: Soldiers’ Stories – Life After iraq and Afghanistan. Exit Wounds will be published in 2015. Lommasson was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant for What We Carried: Fragment’s from the Cradle of Civilization about Iraqi refugees who have fled to the U. S. since 2003.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is of former Oregon National Guardsman Arturo Franco in his apartment in Wilsonville, Oregon. Arturo served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Because of his PTSD and Arturo’s hypervigilance.  Arturo spends his days bunkered in his near-empty apartment playing Xbox video games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with other gamer vets who speak to one another on headsets while they fight a virtual enemy.”

“Arturo was very frank about his experience at war. He said, ‘What will haunt me for the rest of my life is when we took prisoners of war. I had so much hatred for them. I didn’t care if they lived or died. I will not go into details for fear of the law, but things still haunt me. I remember pulling guard on an insurgent that was about to be turned over to the local warlords. He was flex-cuffed and shaking so bad. I gave him a smoke and started small talk. At some point I did a little hand gesture to tell him that he was about to get his head cut off, then I took the smoke from him and said some hateful words. Things like that still bother me. I did not like fighting in Iraq. I did not believe in why we were there. I went because I felt like I owed my friends that were killed over there. They had everything to live for: family, wife, kids. I had none of that, so why didn’t God take me?’ As I was interviewing Arturo while he fought virtual battles on the TV screen, the light from the setting sun projected his shadow on the wall of his apartment. I felt that this moment told his story best.”

 

Alice Sassu August 28, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Italy.
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From the project Giambellino 146, Milan Italy

Alice Sassu (b. 1979 Italy) studied Philosophy and Photography at Cfp Bauer in Milan. After obtaining a MA degree in Philosophy, in 2009 she received a European grant to complete photo and video projects in Palestine. in January 2013 she concluded an internship at the Luz photo agency in Milan, Italy. In addition to making documentary videos, Alice has collaborated with several NGOs based in Middle East. Her photographs have been published in Der Spiegel, Foto8, Popoli and Redattore Sociale.

About the Photograph:

“This picture tells the story of Anna, a blind woman who lives with her cat and dolls in a public multi-ethnic social housing residence near  Milan. Giambellino 146, is an example of self-management social housing: to compensate for the lack of public and private investment in social housing. Residents gather together in meetings and make decisions on the management/maintenance of their building. 146 Giambellino is a photographic series part of a larger project on housing issues. Later, with Italy under eviction I worked on a project about several families forcibly evicted to their houses in Milan neighborhoods. Technically, it’s called guilty arrearage: it consists of eviction because of scarce income of inhabitants. The situation worsens with the approval of the House Plan by the Italian government: for which the illegal occupants cannot have the residence, so they become invisible citizens.”

Cory Richards August 25, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Nepal.
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Bon Monastery in Mustang Kingdom, Nepal 2012

Cory Richards (b. 1981, USA) was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. Cory’s camera has taken him to the wild and remote corners of the world, from the unclimbed peaks of Antarctica to the Himalayas of Nepal and Pakistan —all in the attempt to capture not only the soul of adventure and exploration, but also the beauty inherent in our modern society. Cory is a passionate mountain climber on the North Face athletic team, and has carved a niche as one of the world’s leading adventure and expedition photographers. His photography has appeared in National Geographic magazine, Outside, the New York Times; and his film work has won awards at nearly every major adventure film festival including the grand prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

About the Photograph:

“My first assignment for National Geographic took me to a very remote corner of Nepal tucked up against the Tibetan Border. The Kingdom of Mustang was once a thoroughfare of trade from the Tibetan Plateau to the Indian Sub-Continent. We were there trying to piece together the mysteries of thousands of man-made caves that were hewn into the sandstone of the Khali Gandaki basin centuries ago.  The caves themselves are steeped in lore and myth. In order to get a deeper understanding of the culture that once existed there, I spent a lot of time trying to learn about the contemporary culture of the region. While the area is nearly entirely Buddhist, there are pockets of Bon tradition that still exist. In very basic terms, Bon is to Buddhism what Paganism is to Catholicism…much of it is rooted in the older belief system and has adopted the practices to fit the newer belief system. This particular image was taken in a Bon Monastery during a divination ritual. The younger monk was constantly looking at and relating to the older Lama, looking for cues as they worked their way through pages of script and music, calling their deities to give clues to what the coming year had in store for them.”

Brian Shumway August 21, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Dean in Playground. Pleasant Grove, Utah 2009

Brian Shumway (b. 1976, United States) is a Brooklyn-based photographer with a degree in anthropology from the University of Utah. His work covers the seemingly disconnected territory of children, family, identity, suburbia, fashion, and sexuality. Brian has shot portraits and stories for editorial clients like People Magazine, TV Guide, XXL, Wall Street Journal, Men’s Journal, and Reader’s Digest. His photographs have been recognized by American Photography, Communication Arts, PhotoLucida, Santa Fe Center, LensCulture, The Magenta Foundation and New York Center for Photographic Art. Brian’s work has been exhibited at Soho Photo, Alice Austin House, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Arts, Camera Club NY and the Central Exhibition Hall Manege in St. Petersburg, Russia.

About the Photograph:

“This is a portrait of Dean, my nephew, age 13, just beginning his teenage years. The word “Shit” (a naughty word in the conservative Utah town where he lives) is written on his hand as he wraps his body around a toy at a children’s playground where he sometimes plays, as if clinging to childhood. This moment very much represents the beginning of the loss of innocence. He’s trapped in that murky period of life where he’s no longer a child but not quite grown-up either. The photograph is part of my project called Suburban Splendor that grapples with my suburban heritage and peeks behind the veil of banality surrounding suburban life focusing on my teen and pre-teen nieces, nephews and their friends in Utah as they make their way through contemporary suburban America.”

 

Boryana Katsarova August 18, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ukraine.
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Lenin Square,  Simferopol, Crimea 2014

Boryana Katsarova (b. 1981, Bulgaria) studied photography between 1998 and 2003 and holds a Bachelors Degree from the Bulgarian National Academy for Theater and Cinema Art /NATFA/. She worked as a photographer for Agence France-Press in Bulgaria between 2007 and 2010, during which time her work appeared in major print magazines and newspapers around the world. In 2010 she decided to became a freelance photographer specializing in documentary, editorial and portrait photography and since 2011 has been represented  the Cosmos Photo Agency in Paris. This image is part of a project : Ukraine: Crimea Under Siege that was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

About the Photograph:

“The people in the photograph were attending one of the many pro-Russian rallies which were held in Simferopol and across the entire Crimean peninsula in support of the unification of Crimea with Russia ahead of the unique and internationally unrecognized Crimean Referendum that was held on March 16, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized  the ‘reunification’ of breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea with Russia on March 18, 2014.”

“It was really difficult to take this picture. Many people were against being photographed. It was the first time I was working in a crisis zone and the first time I have ever experienced anything like that. Just two days before, masked gunmen ran towards me and  journalist Dimiter Kenarov and pushed him on the ground. They put a gun to his head demanding his smart phone he was taking pictures with. After that they ran to me and took my Nikon D3 camera. We left Ukraine three weeks after I took this picture.”

“Today, more than five months after the Crimean crisis, the unrest in eastern Ukraine is continuing and the climate for press freedom worsens everyday. Many local and international journalists covering the situation are being interrogated, targeted, their equipment seized, and the number of the ones being killed is growing. In my opinion, nowadays bearing witness as photojournalist, cameraman or reporter in crisis and war zones is a duty, that is much harder and much more responsible than ever before.”

Ben Weller August 14, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Korea.
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A girl writes protest messages in chalk in front of a police line in Miryang, South Korea 2014

Ben Weller (b. 1980 USA) grew up in Indiana, and worked for his parents’ weekly newspaper in high school and summers home from college. He later went to journalism school to pursue a career in writing, but soon shifted his focus to photography. In 2008, Ben received an Overseas Press Club Foundation scholarship and interned with Reuters at their Seoul bureau. He returned to the United States and worked for a year photographing for a power generation and transmission cooperative, where he developed his eye for industrial photography and his interest in energy production. Ben now teaches courses on photography, image editing, and climate change at a university in South Korea, as well as continuing his editorial and corporate photo work. Much of his current work focuses on labor, energy production, and the environment. Ben is represented by ZUMA Press.

About the Photograph:

“Miryang is a small city located in the southeast of the Korean peninsula. It’s a pretty quiet place known for its beautiful mountain streams and unique geological features. It’s also right in the path of a high-voltage transmission line being constructed by the state utility, KEPCO, to meet the growing energy demands of South Korea. A group of local residents, mainly farmers, have been protesting construction of the line for a couple years now. They’re opposed to the huge transmission towers that have begun going up along the ridges around their communities. The day I took this photo, thousands of people from around the country had converged on Miryang to show their support to the protestors. This girl was with a group of protestors outside the local KEPCO offices, which were being guarded by riot police. The story here is about land rights, development, tradition, and power. For me personally, this picture is a reminder that these issues aren’t just about traditional farmers worried about a changing way of life. They’re also about the next generation, and whether that generation will take an active part in building the society it wants to live in.”

Isadora Kosofsky August 11, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Rosie, Los Angeles 2013

Isadora Kosofsky (b. 1993, USA) is a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the 2012 Inge Morath Award from the Magnum Foundation for her multi-series documentary about the lives and relationships of the elderly. Her work has received numerous distinctions from Women in Photography International, Prix de la Photographie Paris and The New York Photo Festival. Isadora’s projects have been featured in Le Monde, The Huffington Post and The New Yorker Photo Booth, among others. She was chosen as a participant in the 2014 Joop Swart Masterclass of World Press Photo. In addition, her long-term documentary “Vinny and David,” about the life and incarceration of two young brothers, was recently published in TIME Lightbox as “The Intersection of Love and Loss: Confronting Youth Incarceration.”

About the Photograph:

“I first met Rosie when I was photographing residents at a nursing home in Los Angeles. After Rosie was released, I continued to photograph her at home. I was particularly drawn to Rosie’s relationship with her caretaker-husband, Adam, who was twenty years younger. Her illness relegated her to bed for the two years that I shadowed her life. We sat for hours at a time, and when there was no more conversation, we stared out the window at Adam’s half-dozen cats and watched a bougainvillea grow and overtake all open space in their yard.”

“This image was taken before an excursion to a desert date farm two hours from the confines of her home. Rosie was embarrassed to leave the house because of her appearance. She often talked about not even wanting to be seen at a supermarket. Eight months after this photograph was taken, Rosie passed away. At her funeral, her sister spoke of Rosie’s once jovial nature and how her house had always been full of friends. Yet, as her sister pointed out, after Rosie became ill, those friends disappeared. Adam became her sole comfort. Moments after this photograph was taken, Rosie cried in the open doorway, frustrated with Adam and apprehensive about venturing out into the unknown. This photograph marks Rosie’s defiance of being hidden.”

Paccarik Orue August 7, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Peru.
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Delivering cheese and milk, Cerro de Pasco, Peru. 2013

Paccarik Orue (b.1976, Peru) currently resides in San Francisco where he earned a BFA in photography from the Academy of Art University. As an immigrant, Paccarik is interested in themes of social relevance and the relationship between people and the environment. His work has been shown at SF Camerawork, Book & Job Gallery, Carte Blanche, Contemporary Art Center New Orleans and it has been featured in Conscientious, Fototazo, Feature Shoot and Lenscratch among others. He is the recipient of En Foco’s NewWorks Photography Award Fellowship #17. Paccarik’s first monograph, There is Nothing Beautiful Around here, was published by Owl & Tiger Books in 2012.

About the Photograph:

“This image, Repartiendo queso y leche (delivering cheese and milk,) is from my ongoing project entitled El Muqui. The project is about environmental problems, folkloric and cultural traditions in the mining city of Cerro de Paso, in the Peruvian Andes, and how these elements coexist with each other. It is important for me that this body of work captures the desire of the inhabitants of Cerro de Pasco to live a normal life under such harsh conditions caused by the pollution of mining activities. The image speaks about such desire. I had seen this woman making deliveries earlier but I was unable to catch up with her. A few days later I happened to be taking photos near the home of one of her customers and finally made her portrait.”

Aapo Huhta August 4, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Finland.
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From the Kainuu project in Northeast Finland 2013

Aapo Huhta (B.1985, Finland) holds a BA in photography from the Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts and is currently studying for his Master’s degree at the Aalto University of Arts and Design in Helsinki Finland. He works with various editorial magazines and also produces personal documentary based projects. Aapo was awarded the Finnish Young Photojournalist of the Year 2011. In 2014 he was selected as one of the Top 30 Under 30 photographers by Magnum Photos, was included in the PDN Photo Annual Student Work Prize, and shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. His photographs have  been published in Vice, Red Cross Publications, Photo Raw, Suomen Kuvalehti, Image and Helsingin Sanomat.

About the Photograph:

“This image was made while I was working on our collaborative Kainuu project in Northeast Finland. What struck me about the region is the contrast between rural and urban environments. The area is the birthplace of an old Finnish mythology that everybody learns at school. Together with four other photographers we have been going there to explore these old stories through contemporary photography. For the project I was driving from house to house and meeting people to photograph. Helvi , the lady in the picture told me that she does a lot of puzzles in this summer nest of hers. She decorated the whole bedroom with the puzzles, so I asked if I could photograph her in this room. I like the challenge of making photographs out of the ordinary and trying to find key elements to make something interesting. But sometimes you are just lucky to find characters or situations which make the photographs intriguing by itself.”

 

Erika Larsen July 31, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Destiny and Daisy from the series; ‘People of the Horse’. Pendelton, Oregon 2012

Erika Larsen’s (b.1976 USA) work uses photography, video and writing to learn
 intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She has been working as a magazine photographer since 2000 specializing in 
human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues. Her work has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery,
 National Geographic Society, The Swedish Museum of Ethnography and Ajtte Sámi Museum. Erika’s first monograph, Sami-Walking With Reindeer, was released in 2013. Her work is represented by Redux Pictures. Erika is a recipient of several grants including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant, Lois Roth Endowment and a World Press Award.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture as part of the series People of the Horse to illuminate the unique bond between the horse and Native American culture. Destiny is of the Wampum tribe and is depicted here with Daisy. I met Destiny and her brother Nakia for the first time in Pendleton, Oregon where she was taking part in the yearly Indian princess competition.  Even though the horse was first embraced for war, hunting and transport in time they became partners in pageantry and a way to show tribal pride. This tradition of pageantry is still very strong today. A year after I met Destiny I made arrangements to photograph her alone, away from the pageant. The first attempt was in the early evening and she and the horse were both dressed beautifully. But when we began to shoot, something spooked Daisy and in seconds Destiny was thrown in the mud and water and Daisy was also soaked. I was so impressed with her resolve as she rose from the mud, mounted and steadied the horse. However, I asked if we could arrange to shoot again the following day after the regalia had been cleaned.  In the early morning this image appeared.

 

Annika Haas July 28, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Slantsy, Russia 2014

Annika Haas (b. 1974, Estonia) started to take photos when she was 13 years old. She studied at University of Tartu specialized in Finno-Ugric languages and also studied photojournalism at Tartu Art College. Annika also attended courses at the Photo Opportunity Studios (2003) and courses in Documentary Photography at the foto8 gallery in London (2012). She is a member of the board the Estonian Association of Press Photographers. Her work has been published in: The Washington Post, Lens Culture Magazine, Freundin and Aamulehti. This year she won a Grand Prize in Estonian Press Photo contest.

About the Photograph:

“As a resident of a state occupied by the former Soviet empire, I found that after closure of our eastern border, a trip from Estonia to Russia seems like time-travel. While standing on the shore of Lake Peipus that separates Europe from Russia, you begin to think about the life on the other shore. After several years, I had the opportunity to visit Russia. In Slantsy – a Russian border zone city, where you need a special permit to stay there – I found a bridal gown hanging on the clothesline in a backyard of dismal barrack housing. It seemed so inappropriate in this lonesome and deserted quarter, the contrast between the shabby surroundings and the glamor of the garment. It’s a reflection of social and public clashes so characteristic of Russia – deep poverty on the one hand, and  the yearning for the West, so forbidden, yet so sweet found in the deepest corners of the Russian soul.”

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