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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.”

Sasha Rudensky October 10, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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From the project ‘Brightness’. Kiev, Ukraine 2010

Sasha Rudensky (b. 1979, Russia) studied Studio Art and Russian Literature at Wesleyan University where she received a BA in 2001. She received her MFA in photography from Yale University in 2008. Her work has been featured in American Photo and PDN and exhibited at Aperture Gallery, Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland and Les Rencontres d’Arles, France. Sasha is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Wesleyan University. She resides in Brooklyn.

About the Photograph:

“This is an image that is part of a four year project called Brightness. I was visiting my friends’ hip new store called Пюре, which in Russian means mashed potatoes. They were being interviewed by a journalist and had no idea I set up my camera and tripod. I couldn’t decide what I loved more the gummy bear linoleum or the amazing royal blue curtains. Instinctively I assumed the bust to be Lenin, only to marvel at the fact that it was a plaster Hannibal Lecter, making it the perfect post-Soviet set. That kind of theatricality found in every day life is what I gravitate towards consistently, which perhaps explains my ongoing love affair with the East.”

“The East’s yearning for Brightness has an extensive aesthetic cultural history, but its Post-Soviet manifestation is set apart by its own brand of showiness, depravity, garishness, and melancholy. It is as if that Brightness can reverse the historic dislocation and atone for frustrated expectations and unfulfilled claims, the very materiality of fabrics, objects, gold providing security of tangible progress. If you can’t draw well, draw richly is an old Russian saying, a quip denoting deep awareness of the tactics of self-staging and delusion.  The subject of these photographs is an orphan generation of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians that came of age in a social vacuum, having disowned their past but lacking any means of orientation within the present. They are part archetype, part invention, as much a projection of their own fantasy as they are of mine.”

Anastasia Rudenko April 8, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Domestic Violence Incident. Vologda, Russia 2010

Anastasia Rudenko (b.1982, South Kazakhstan) began taking photos and documenting families affected by domestic abuse, including members of her own family and people she met by following the police. Over the past two years Anastasia has been exploring social issues in Russia (domestic violence, disabled children living in orphanages) and documenting life in her native Kazakhstan. She was selected for PDN’s list of 30 new and emerging photographers to watch and for 19th Joop Swart Masterclass in 2012. She recently graduated from the Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. Anastasia is  based in Moscow and represented by Reportage by Getty Images.

About the Photograph:

“I was in raid with police during New Year holidays, a time when many domestic violence incidents occur. This couple was divorced but still forced to live together because of their common flat. They accused one another of stabbing each other with a knife. In contrast to a situation where the husband is usually the tyrant, in this family conflict I see the problem of people just not being able to communicate with each other. What interested me most in this photograph was the policeman who was so frustrated.”

Pavel Prokopchik November 16, 2012

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From the series about alternative Russian youth. Utrish, Russia 2010

Pavel Prokopchik (b. 1982, Russia) grew up in Latvia, a part of the Soviet Union at that time. In 2001 he moved to the Netherlands. After receiving a BA in civil engineering he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague where he received his degree in documentary photography (2009). His work has been published in De Volkskrant and The New York Times. Pavel has received a number of national and international photography awards including the latest from World Press Photo. In February 2012 Pavel exhibited his series about alternative Russian youth The Tribe at the FOAM photography museum in Amsterdam. He works as a freelance photographer, mainly focusing on long-term personal projects.

About the Photograph:

“This image was taken at a place called Utrish, which is a summer refuge for many alternative people from all over Russia. Utrish is situated on the cost of the Black Sea. It’s a nature resort, which consists of three lagoons between Bolshoy Utrish and Maliy Utrish. Local authorities are trying to get rid of all the hippies and turn this area into a commercial touristic destination. The two people in this picture are Lama and Nastya. Lama is one of the main characters of my ongoing long term project The Tribe about alternative youth in Russia.”

“He earns his living by selling psychedelic drugs, weed and hash living a nomadic lifestyle. The picture was taken upon arrival in Utrish after a sleepless night spent hitchhiking. After Lama left Utrish, Nastya met someone else and in about two months she was already pregnant. Since her new husband never finished higher education he couldn’t find a good job, so they were forced to move in with Nastya’s parents in St Petersburg, where the baby was born in June 2011. Lama was heartbroken when he found out that his girlfriend left him.”

Nadia Sablin October 8, 2012

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A six-letter word for…, Russia 2010

Nadia Sablin (b. 1980, Soviet Union) and spent her adolescence in the American Midwest. After completing an MFA degree at Arizona State University, she now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and St. Petersburg, Russia. Her photographs have been shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Wall Space gallery and Jen Bekman gallery among others. In 2011 Nadia was one of the winners of the Magenta Flash Forward Emerging Photographers Competition, as well as receiving the SPE award for innovation in imaging. She was recently awarded the Puffin grant in photography for her work on the Two Sisters project. Her photographs are part of the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

About the Photograph:

“The Two Sisters project explores the lives of two unmarried sisters living in Northwest Russia. The two women, my aunts, are in their seventies, but carry on a traditional way of life, chopping wood for heating the house, bringing water from the well and making their own clothes.  As they get older, they are less and less able to perform the grueling tasks of running their small farm and spend more time resting. My photographs of them are a meditation on aging, family and a sense of belonging. The house in which Aleftina and Ludmila live was built by their father, my grandfather. The rugs are weaved by their mother. They contribute to the home as well, with new wallpapers, hand-sewn curtains, quilts and lace. Handwritten recipes are folded to contain seeds for planting, or rolled up balls of stray hair. I took this photograph after showing up, unannounced, after being away for a year. So absorbed were they by their task, that they had to finish the puzzle before making tea and catching up. I gladly offered my help.”

Jeremy Nichol March 15, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Putin Supporters. Moscow, Russia

Jeremy Nicholl (b.1957, Northern Ireland) bought his first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, when he was eight years old. Some 16 years later he finally went professional, working first as a freelance at the Times, Sunday Times and various UK magazines, then as a contract photographer at the Independent. After working throughout Europe, in Africa and the USA, he has since 1991 specialized in the former Soviet Union, and his work from there has been widely published and exhibited, and won a number of awards, including at World Press Photo. He believes he was fated to work in Russia: he took his first pictures there on a school trip aged thirteen, with that Kodak Instamatic.

About the Photograph:

“It’s politics, but not as we know it. Nashi [meaning "Ours"] is a pro-Kremlin youth group dreamt up by Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s chief ideologist. Essentially they’re a remodeled version of the Komsomol, the old Communist youth movement, and are wheeled out whenever the authorities need some socially acceptable patriotic youth on the TV news. On this occasion 70,000 of them were dressed up as Dyed Moroz and Snegurichka [Father Frost and the Snow Maiden] at a rally to wish happy new year to veterans of World War Two, or the Great Patriotic War as it’s known in Russia. It was of course all very controlled: city center streets sealed off, entrance only to those with an invitation, dozens of state TV cameras in prime positions to capture the onstage action with the veterans. Most of this was ignored by the kids: many are bussed in from out of town, so for them it’s largely a free day out to the big city. Here they’re just leaving past the rows of riot cops who would of course be arresting them if this wasn’t an officially approved demonstration.”

Max Sher March 5, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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From the Series Amerika. Kemerovo, Russia 2011

Max Sher (b.1975, Russia) was raised and educated in Siberia and France. Since 2006 he has been photographing in various Russian regions (Caucasus, Siberia, Urals, Astrakhan, etc.) as well as in Belarus, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kazakhstan, China, Turkey, Tajikistan, Ukraine as part of his personal projects and on commissions. His work appeared in Courrier International, Monocle, Esquire (Russia), le Monde, Libération, Ogoniok, Independent Magazine, Afisha, Bolshoi Gorod, Russian Reporter, Snob, GEO Traveler, Foto8, Private, Der Spiegel, Forbes.ru, Newsweek Japan, etc. and was exhibited in St.Petersburg, Vienna, Moscow, Bratislava, among others. Max was nominated for KLM Paul Huf Awards in 2008. He is currently based in Moscow.

About the Photograph:

“The idea of the title was taken from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment – one of the characters before shooting himself says to the person present at the scene: ‘If anybody asks you tell them I went to America”. In the Russian literature, the imaginary, celestial ‘Amerika’ is synonym for escape, nothingness, imagination, ‘emigration’ from life into the super sensual world of ideas and imagery. My Amerika has no story behind it, it reflects a certain state of mind and soul during my stay in Siberia, where I had lived from the age of 11 to 23 – a difficult and formative period in my life. I went back to my old home after a long absence during the most melancholic season to come to terms with that period and to photograph.”

Olya Ivanova December 1, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Vova and Nose. Siberia, Russia 2009

Olya Ivanova (b.1981, Russia) received a BA in literature and worked as a copywriter with global advertising agencies in Moscow until her boyfriend gave her an old film camera. She is a self taught photographer who has been heavily influenced by the work of Alec Soth and Guillaume Herbaut. Olya currently shoots for magazines including Monocle, Psychologies, Time Out, Russian Reporter and others. Her photographs has been exhibited in Moscow at the Solyanka Gallery, Fotoweek in Washington, DC  and the Museum of the Fine Arts in Denys-Puech of Rodez France. Her work has been recognized by the Photo Circle Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, Honorable mention in Portraiture, UK.

About the Photograph:

“This picture was shot in Gorelovka, a village in Siberia 800 km from Novosibirsk. It was for a story about hermits living in a village that historically was a place to escape and hide. Many years ago Christian old believers came here to avoid church reform. Then ‘kulaks’ (wealthy peasants) chose this place to escape from Stalin’s repressions. Now many ‘new world antagonists’ settle here to live without passports, personal tax numbers, church and government. Vova is not a hermit, he is just a local, who works as a stove-man in winter and as a saw mill worker in summertime. Each day we visited and started with beer and finished with vodka, the usual life here. We listened to his old gramophone or rode on his Soviet bike across the fields to drink from a natural source of water. It was pure happiness. Vova was sitting behind the stove, it was the end of September and quite cold. His cat Nose all of a sudden jumped on his shoulder and stared at me. “

Diana Markosian October 13, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Russia’s Traveling Circus, Moscow 2010

Diana Markosian (b.1989, Russia) is a freelance photojournalist and multimedia producer working out of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Although she has only been seriously involved with photography since Spring 2010, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Reuters, Observer, Vanity Fair, Slate, CNN International, MSNBC, and Human Rights Watch. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Diana attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in October 2011 and is also the recipient of the Alfred DuPont Fellowship and a winner of Columbia University’s College Photographer of the Year.

About the Photograph:

“This image was taken in a small town in the outskirts of Moscow. I had recently moved to Russia, where I began working on a piece about the traveling circus. It was the last day of August. The summer month ended in thunderstorms and rain. When I approached the gazebo, the area was desolate with people hiding from the rain.  I walked inside the trailer to dry off. Within minutes, a crowd of people lined outside, waiting to buy their ticket for the night’s performance. The trailer itself was pretty tiny, which made it difficult for one to peek inside. I took this photo about a dozen times before landing on this image.”

Serge Van Cauwenbergh July 18, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Olga, Chernobyl, Russia 2006

Serge Van Cauwenbergh (b. 1973, Belgium) is a documentary and humanitarian photographer covering social issues, creating photo essays for ngo’s and humanitarian aid organizations. He is mainly a self-taught photographer, but also completed a degree in Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. He is interested in how people are dealing with the circumstances they have to live in; how are they handling new opportunities or changes in today’s society; how are they coping with the consequences of a disaster, depression, decease or dementia. He focuses on elements in their life that are perishable, details that are often overlooked and will otherwise be forgotten in time.

About the Photograph:

“In 2006 I visited Ukraine and the Zones of Exclusion to work on a photo essay about Chernobyl and the aftermath of the disaster.  I was introduced to several elderly people who are still living in Chernobyl and the surrounding areas. They witnessed everything up close and returned to their houses weeks and months after the nuclear disaster, some even claim they never left the area. Olga is one of them. Her house is located just outside the town center of Chernobyl. The moment I entered the porch she told me that photographers and film crew regularly visit the area, some even dare to shoot in her yard without asking permission first.  She has always been a housewife, her husband was working for the community service. He passed away a few years ago. About the disaster itself she remembers that everything went very chaotic and information was scarce. At that time the true scale of the disaster was concealed, she says. From all of my visits in the area I learned that these people are still very disappointed how the government dealt with this disaster.”

Bieke Depoorter July 8, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Vladivostok, Russia, 2009

Bieke Depoorter (b.1986, Belgium) graduated  from the Royal Academy of Arts in Ghent in 2009 with a Masters degree in photography. She mainly works on personal projects, in which she looks for the intimacy of families where she’s part of for one night. In 2009, she traveled through Russia for her project «Oe menia» (With me), which won the Magnum Expression Award. In Autumn 2011, she will publish her first book with Lannoo (The Netherlands) and the designers Mevis and Van Deurisen.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture during my second trip through Russia in the winter of 2008/2009. I met the woman a few days before, in the train, on my way to Vladivostok. We managed to meet again when I crossed her little village. As always, she didn’t speak English and I didn’t understand Russian but the moments with her were very quiet, intense and powerful.  I spend the night on her coach in her small old house. We watched pictures from the past and she invited me for a walk in her neighborhood. It was dark and freezing cold. We had to walk arm in arm because of the ice. She gave me one of her old bags to put my camera in, to protect me against thief’s.  In a little cold cafe that looked down over a frozen lake where some people where doing slipping tricks with their cars, we drank tea and walked back home.  Back in the warm house, she gave me a flowered pajama, watched the Russian The bold and the Beautiful and went to sleep.” (more…)

Alexander Aksakov June 8, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Epiphany Night, St.Petersburg, Russia 2011

Alexander Aksakov (b. 1986, Russia) is a freelance photographer based in St. Petersburg. He started photographing life in cities and roads of Russia in 2005 during his first experience as a hitchhiker. While studying at the university he decided not to work as a marketeer, but would concentrate on photography. In 2007 he was invited by several Syktyvkar (Komi Republic, Russia) newspapers as a freelance photographer. After graduating in 2009 he was put into the army and served for a year as a fireman in Plesetsk, the space launching site. He lives and works in St. Petersburg shooting mainly for St. Petersburg and making personal documentary projects and essays.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was made on my way home from an assignment. I saw large group of people swimming in the Neva river covered with ice. Somebody fired a flash in front of me at the moment I pressed the shutter. It’s believed that sinking into cold water for three times helps wash away your sins and become closer to God. In Russia it’s a very popular ritual and sometimes even people who don’t really believe in God take part in it. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside. People sink even if it’s -30C outside or colder. Those who have tried it say they feel lighter and better and their problems disappear.  That’s the idea of epiphany: people washing off their sins and getting closer to heaven.

Michael Christopher Brown November 20, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ohio University, Russia.
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Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin Island, Russia

Michael Christopher Brown (b. 1977, USA)  moved to New York and began working as a freelance photographer in 2006. He has worked for publications such as Fortune, The Atlantic, ESPN The Magazine, Financial Times, GEO France, Conde Nast Portfolio, Time, National Geographic Magazine, The Economist, Monocle, Smithsonian, Ventiquattro, The Nature Conservancy and The New York Times. When not on assignment he can be found driving around China in his modified bread van, taking pictures with the iPhone and Kodak films.

About the Photograph:

“I first traveled to Sakhalin Island, Russia, to work on an editorial piece about the island’s energy riches, which, since the 90’s, sparked a booming economy from this tired outpost in Russia’s lost eastern frontier. As the majority of the population was living in broken, rusted skeletons of communities formerly dominated by fishing, timber and coal industries, I tried to photograph a changing psyche in the air. The young couple in this photograph were at The Chameleon bar in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the capital city of Sakhalin. All the young people here knew each other. I knew someone who knew the owner of the bar and nearly everyone in the room, so I was able to walk around and photograph everything. No one paid me any attention.”

Sasha Maslov September 20, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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Prisoners watching theater. Kharkiv, Ukraine

Sasha Maslov ( b.1984, Ukraine) was Inspired and taught by his father, Guennadi Maslov, and later his teacher and mentor, Oleg Shishkov, he became an aspiring young photographer who now resides in New York city. Sasha works in editorial photography and is best known for his social documentary projects around Eastern Europe, especially in his native country.

About the Photograph:

“Here at one of the penal colonies in Kharkiv, Ukraine there is depressing view of endless gray walls with barbwire on the background of even grayer sky. Time has ceased to exist these walls. It’s difficult to imagine that people would attempt to seek out something uplifting within the small reality tucked into that of another. But human nature will keep you from dropping your head completely and even when caught in the deepest shaft we can find the strength to seek out traces of light. In the fall of 2005 I documented a group of prisoners who, with the support from one of the local theaters, made an effort to organize a theatrical troupe and stage a play. The play was written by Jonathan Swift long time ago in Ireland and has very little to do with prison reality in Ukraine of 2005. It was extremely moving to observe the inmates mastering acting transitioning from prison slang to calling one another sir and lord, from wearing drab uniforms to donning wigs and bright costumes; as they transform, rehearsing and then performing for the crowd of their inmates and guards.”

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