Cold war revisited
Moscow, 1991
Portraits from the edge of change

In The Moscow Project, Alessandro Albert and Paolo Verzone have produced a fascinating report on the changing face of the post-Soviet city. The pair visited the capital three times, in 1991, 2001 and 2011, taking more than a hundred portraits on each occasion. Their first visit took place in September 1991, two weeks after the August coup d’état that contributed to the USSR’s collapse.

“Equipped with a sign explaining in Russian that would we were looking for people to pose for us, we sought out pedestrians between 10 am and 5 pm,” the photographers recall.

“Stationing our large format, 4x5-inch folding camera at strategic locations bearing political or cultural significance, we moved each day to cover a new neighborhood or demographic.”

They took 180 portraits spanning ages, professions, nationalities and interests.

The original notion of the series was to use the camera as a time machine:

Today a flick through those portraits immediately takes us back to a Moscow which turned overnight from Soviet to post-Soviet.

We see the city through the eyes of its inhabitants:

A kid with a Yeltsin badge on his baggy sweater,

A newly married couple,

A navy cadet,

A group of Roma people.

Over 20 years later, the subjects must have completely changed,

But in the photos they are still looking into the uncertain yet hopeful future.

Text: Anastasiia Fedorova
Image: Alessandro Albert and Paolo Verzone