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Guy Martin October 23, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.

Young Cossack Recruits, Novopavlovsk, Russia 2007

Guy Martin (b.1983, England) graduated from the University of Wales in 2006. He began pursuing long term projects, one of which ‘Trading over the Borderline’ won him the Guardian/Observer Hodge student award. His other projects include work in: Georgia, Sudan, Uganda, Turkey, Northern Iraq, Russia. His photographs have appeared in the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, FADER Magazine, the British Journal of Photography amongst other publications. In 2007 and 2009 Guy was named in the MAGENTA foundations top emerging photographers. In 2008 he also had work from his Cossack project shown in the National Portrait Gallery. Guy is now based in Cornwall, England, continuing his work on personal projects and freelancing for national and international magazines. He is represented internationally by Zuma Press.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of a three year personal project looking at the rise and re-birth of the Cossack movement in Southern Russia and the Caucasuss. My initial goal was to spend time in Cossack only military schools, finding out what was so different about Cossack traditions and customs. This picture was made on a baking hot spring day. My interpreter told me that there was going to be a Cossack summer camp opening in the district and that we should go down and try and visit the place and speak to a few of the residents. The image was made almost immediately after stepping out of the car. My previous experience of Cossacks in the region were from veterans of the Chechen war, Afghanistan and disillusioned, nationalist, adolescent boys desperate for a fight and to feel part of something. The girl, almost too pretty to be wearing combat fatigues stood out from the crowd of boys she was with. She looked at me for a split second and then turned back into the crowd. Walking past her later I found she was carrying a loaded handgun.”

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“Young Cossack recruits discuss the day ahead as they embark on a days military training in the Southern Russian border down of Novopavlovsk. The town is just one hour away from North Ossetia where Chechen terrorists carried out the Beslan School massacre in 2003. Due to the towns proximity to the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia and the increasing violence that is repeatedly occurring in the region, the Cossacks of Southern Russia are re-arming and patrolling the southern borders to prevent any violence and terrorist activities happening in the ‘Motherland’.”