A guide to the New East
Photography

Urban pastoral: Alexander Gronsky’s visions of thwarted arcadia

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Where do Muscovites go on a sunny day? The options for sun-seekers in the Russian capital are, it seems, limited. To create Pastoral 2008-2012, award-winning photographer Alexander Gronsky (Aperture Portfolio prize, Silver Camera Grand Prix) spent four years capturing the patches of grass and sand on the city’s periphery sought out by Muscovites — along with the towering apartment blocks, wires and cranes that thwart any attempt at arcadian escape. Gronsky, who was born in Estonia and now lives in Latvia, explores Moscow’s wastelands, neither urban nor rural, on the outskirts of the city. The sense of perspective and composition in his large format images is reminiscent of 18th- and 19th-century European landscape paintings. Together, they show the longing for nature, as well as the impossibility of a true escape, that pervades one of Europe's most crowded cities.

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