Russia revisited: photographer Max Sher casts a clinical eye over the Russian landscape
In the Soviet era, official photography produced feel-good images that obscure reality. Photography was strictly controlled as part of wider efforts to project an image of Soviet vastness and greatness. In contrast, the unofficial, “democratic” photography that emerged in the last two decades of the Soviet UnMax Sherion focused on portraying the darkest sides of reality in a bid to lift the lid on the so-called truth. In both cases, few were interested in recording the landscape with a detached, scientific eye. My latest project, Russian Palimpsest, aims to rectify both biases in order to aestheticise that which is considered “ugly” in the Russian landscape. In short, I hope to create a new visual language for Russia by photographing the everyday, from regional airports to petrol stations to ordinary houses. The point is that this is what Russia looks like so we should learn to accept it and reclaim these images as our own.
Urban pastoral: Alexander Gronsky’s visions of thwarted arcadia