It is not just sport and the new Nikon D4s on show at the Sochi Olympics but also host nation Russia, a country that is still something of a post-soviet mystery. PetaPixel picked up a story by NPR exploring the day-to-day side of Russia away from Sochi.
Mention Russia and if you’ve ever seen a Hollywood movie then you’d be forgiven for thinking in stereotypes of bond villains, Moscow and possibly vodka -not necessarily in that order. But, with Russia sprawling across two continents the diversity, customs and way of life found within its borders remain a secrete to the rest of the world. NPR spoke to Russian photographer Valeriy Klamm to discover more about his experience of trying to challenge foreign photojournalists’ perceptions of Russia as a vast, bleak and cold country. Klamm became frustrated with foreign journalists being sent to Russia with a clear brief of what sort of shot their editor wanted, or the story they were expected to tell.
“They already know how to take pictures of Russia, and that’s how they arrive,” Klamm said to the NPR. “It’s always a wild country that’s in some kind of difficult transition period.”
Having never strayed away from photographing life on the banks of the Ob in Siberia, Klamm set about travelling across Russia to show both foreign photojournalists and the outside world a side of Russian people which wasn’t about ruthless oligarchs and drunk Cossacks. Half-photographer half-anthropologist Klamm’s results have grown to become a collaborative project called “Birthmarks on the Map” featuring Klamm and his fellow photographers who are creating a photographic map of modern Russia. Their project provides the outside world a new look at life within the mysterious country, as well as a fascinating record of contemporary social history.
What do you think?
Does his work confirm or challenge your expectations of Russia?