These snapshots of nocturnal Nizhny Novgorod capture the quiet contemplation of the Russian commuter

These snapshots of nocturnal Nizhny Novgorod capture the quiet contemplation of the Russian commuter

In a country as vast as Russia, getting from A to B has understandably become a kind of national ritual, an act of collective meditation. Be it an overnight train ride back to your hometown or a daily commute — the time you spend in between places is never time wasted.

It is this transitory way of life, with its melancholic allure of non-belonging, that animates the dark and snowy world captured by Nizhny Novgorod native Marina Volskaya-Nikitina. In her photos, everyday travel is transfigured into a journey between realities, all lit up by traffic lights. The tired eyes of a bus passenger suddenly seem full of stories.

Marina’s hometown, founded as Russia’s southern outpost and more recently a place of exile for Soviet dissidents including Andrei Sakharov, offers photographers eclectic terrain to explore. The sleepy passengers of Volskaya-Nikitina’s shots pass by the ancient walls of the city Kremlin, abandoned fairgrounds, concrete highways, roadside cafes, suburban districts, and crumbling wooden facades.

Beyond the flickering lights and inclement weather, these photos also hint towards the glut of emotions experienced each day by ordinary people: love, curiosity, despair, idleness, agency. Taken as a whole, this feed, what Volskaya-Nikitina’s calls her “nighttime urbanography”, offers a reminder of how a city like Nizhny binds strangers together, even when they seem distant.

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