"In the Russian East"

 From the series " In the Russian Est", 2014 ©Davide Monteleone

From the series " In the Russian Est", 2014 ©Davide Monteleone

Richard Avedon's "In the American West" is widely recognized as a landmark project in photographic history and a definitive expression of the power of photographic art. For "In the American West", Avedon travelled with the intention of meeting and photographing the simple people of the West: ranch workers, roustabouts, bar girls, drifters, and gamblers. 30 years later, with these images and simple concept in mind I want to emulate and re-elaborate Richard Avedon’s work in the Russian East.

My aim is to break through the geographical vastness of Russia and look beyond the familiar image of the European Russia. To go to the East towards Asia that is so hard to ransom, to reach out to China and to the borders of the new "Empire", where Russians, Koreans and numerous ethnic groups co-exist side by side. I’ll go through Siberia, stop over in isolated villages, enormous industrial soviet towns.

I want to cross the enormous lands of Russia to grasp through faces, places and documents how present the new propaganda of the central government is in those detached lands, if the metamorphosis that the Russia is undergoing now can be felt there and how it resonates. I want to find out if “in the Russian East” the life and consciousness of people differ from that of their compatriots in the capital city. What is it like to be from the Russian East, where the rhythms of life and economy beat in different hour zones?

I started last summer this series of portrait in the Far East of Russia, and I hope to continue this summer when I will probably start adding a fix camera footage of the areas where I will shoot the portraits. 

A selection of this series in on The New Yorker with an introduction text by Masha Gessen, and can be seen here.