Sergei Stroitelev

Photographer
  
Behind the Snow
Nationality: Russian
Biography: I am a freelance photographer and visual artist working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the exploration of the issues of modern... MORE
Public Story
Behind the Snow
Copyright Sergei Stroitelev 2023
Updated Jul 2022
Behind the Snow

I cross the Northern Dvina through a blizzard on a snowmobile, it is not possible to see the other shore of the river because of the fog. Today is the 10th day of my journey through the vast Arkhangelsk region. I just listen to silence and cannot believe that somebody live here, behind the snow.

I was born in this region of Russia. My native village does not exist anymore, not a single brick left. It was abandoned many years ago. This part of Russia has the most number of such villages in the whole country. I went back there to find villages with one residents left. It was important for me as it will give me some hope that this forgotten land is still alive. I have found 10 places, talked to people learning their stories, documented their daily routine. They are rude like real northerners and you need to earn their trust. They live alone on the land in which they have grown roots, finding strength and reasons to continue on their way, some with the help of memories, pets, songs or alcohol. These people have witnessed several epochs of Russia. They have seen how difficult times have turned their land into oblivion.

It seems to me that it is incredibly important that these abandoned places have their own face. Sometimes it is impossible to realize that someone lives in the villages until you see the smoke from the chimney.

The current project reveals the present of real Russia which is hidden by propaganda. The testimonies of these people constitute the story of Russia itself and what happened to the country after the collapse of the USSR.

Arkhangelsk region (Russia), 2021 - ongoing

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