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Photographer Maria Gruzdeva’s book BORDER has just been published by Amsterdam-based Schilt Publishing. It is a monumental documentary project that took her five years to complete. We asked her to tell us a bit about the book and share a favorite excerpt and some photos.
BORDER: A journey along the edges of Russia is the outcome of a nearly 70,000 kilometer, five-year trek exploring the most distant and often undiscovered areas of Russia. Border areas were chosen for a reason, because they are so innately complex. The question of emotional and physical belonging is connected with the notion of territory, which is so earthy and solid, yet at the same time abstract, like the borders themselves. The borders exist, yet they are not material or tangible.
I am very interested in contemporary Russian identity and the elements that shape it: collective memory, iconography, local traditions and industries, people, and the history embodied in the surrounding landscape.
The borders and their surrounding areas bear witness to historical events that once took place there; these are territories where past meets present. One doesn’t have to be a historian to understand that. Sometimes when traveling in borderlands, one is overcome by a strange feeling of history come alive, as if you were suddenly immersed in a time capsule. It seems as if history has become physical – you can almost touch it.
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