Since graduating from the Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia, Ukhta-born Alexander Anufriev has been working on a number of series which describe and analyse “the social landscape of modern Russia”.
No project describes this visual stance of Alexander’s better than Russia Close-Up, a collection of photographs which zoom in on recognisable cliches of all things Russian. “I think of this as a visual dictionary,” Alexander tells It’s Nice That. “That’s why, besides my subjective interests and national cliches, it was important to me to visualise significant social processes that have taken place during the last few years: militarisation, clericalisation, forcing of patriotism and Slavic culture, strengthening of censorship, the cult of Putin, etc,” he continues to explain. “That’s why you see featured elements.”
Across Russia Close-Up are elements recognisable to anyone who lives in Russia or to those viewing it from halfway across the world. The colour red understandably runs throughout the project, whether it be in the clothing people wear, painted Russian dolls or in a bottle of vodka’s label. In order to strike a balance between photographs which are commonplace but still fascinating, the photographer asked himself numerous questions to keep the project on its toes: “Is it possible to get out cliches when you speak about national? What defines a nation? And how far subjective attitude could lead the author?”
Alexander took each of the photographs candidly, rarely speaking to any of his subjects instead shooting in crowds in order to get close, but remain unnoticeable. “The average distance in the images is 20-80cm, sometimes I shoot from behind so a person doesn’t even see me, or sometimes I pretend that I’m shooting something behind the person and he/she prevents me from doing this.” In turn, the natural setting and moments documented in Russian Close-Up display the aesthetic inspiration Alexander has gained from his influences, “Aaron Siskind, Ralph Gibson and Martin Parr”.
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