“Mezen: By Sky’s Edge” by Emil Gataullin
“Here is a door behind which the hidden is revealed, enter and you will see not what one wants to see but what is” — writing on a big wooden cross, Kuloy village, Arkhangelsk region, Russia.
This project explores fading northern villages of Russia, the people who live there, the reasons they cannot adapt to the modern world and long for the past. The Mezen River flows through the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk region in the northern reaches of Russia. Close to 1000 kilometres in length, the river, which freezes in October and thaws again in April, flows into the White Sea. Along its banks, a series of settlements are strung together, like memories of older days.
Life in the Mezen villages seems to have stood still, with its backdrop of centuries-old wooden cabins, ruined churches, and archaic crosses; people talk more about former times than about the here and now; the past seems more real than the present. Many of the locals became unemployed after the fall of the Soviet Union, and many of them left the settlements. Those who remain behind take care of themselves, just as their ancestors did before them: they bake, they hunt, and they fish. They feel abandoned, and live in a state of timelessness, caught between a past that is forever lost and a future that is anything but secure. Far from the big city and cultural life, the present shimmers like an inexistent star — somewhere out there, on television or in the pages of a magazine.
Emil Gataullin, born in 1972, based in Moscow, Russia. In 1999 he graduated from Moscow Surikov Institute of Art, majoring in monumental painting. He studied photography with one of the leading Russian photography ideologists and authors, Alexander Lapin, from 2003 to 2004. His work was published in GEO, LFI Magazine, The New York Times, Black+White Photography, FOTO Magazine, Schwarzweiss, Russian Reporter, Ogonek, Takie Dela among many other magazines and online media. His projects were shown in solo exhibitions in Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Russia. In 2016 his personal retrospective book “Towards the Horizon” was published by Edition Lammerhuber.
Selection by Editor Alejandra Martinez Moreno (@ale_jandram)