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Work / Photography

Photographer Benedetta Ristori documents cultural juxtapositions on the Balkan peninsula

Shot over the course of two years using entirely analogue equipment, East by Benedetta Ristori is a documentary of the Balkan peninsula. Having visited Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia (to date) the series captures architecture, landscapes and portraits in different seasons. “The project aims to explore the relationship between the past and present of these nations and show how the past may influence or interact with the world today,” says Benedetta. “A particular focus is given to countries which until 2006 were part of Yugoslavia and immortalise what remains of this socialist period, a period that has left in these lands with significant traces of relations with the Soviet Union.”

The series captures instances of life such as bathers on the banks of the Black Sea to the grand Spomenik – memorials that serve as reminders of battles and commemorate events from the conflicts within the region. “The Spomenik are a great testimony of a macabre chapter of world history that is not always remembered with due importance; at the same time they are unique sculptures and architectural works of their kind,” says Benedetta. “It shows how ideology has interpreted the idea of commemorating the fallen in a totally opposite way to the memorials we are used to; the Spomenik are totems that through their abstract figurative language, recall shapes and organic shapes like petals, crystals or flowers totally immersed in the nature.”

The series is ongoing and shows how life in the former Soviet countries is moving on from the past, although its influence remains powerful. “The inspiration for the creation of this project was born from the passion for reportage of the great American photographers such as Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, Richard Misrach and Alec Soth to name a few,” says the photographer. “The nostalgic key that acts as a common thread of history is also maintained through the exclusive use of the choice of analog cameras.”

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