A Question of Patriotism

On the Road in Putin's Russia


WHAT: A pop-up, temporary museum exhibit featuring original photography with audio interview playback.

In 2015, “The Spine of Russia” project took a mismatched duo of Russian and American journalists on a 6000-kilometer road trip from the frigid shores of the Barents Sea to Sochi, Russia’s southernmost tip on the Black Sea.

The goal was to view Russia from the ground, to collect powerful images and honest human stories that offered a more subtle, complex picture of the United States’ resurgent global rival. The trip captured over 3000 still images and hundreds of hours of interviews with Russians from all walks of life, all of which was distilled into a coffee table photo book and a text-only travel essay style book.

A central element of the project was the duo’s interviews with over 40 “heroes,” followed by a revealing environmental photo portrait of each. After their portrait was captured, each hero was surprised with the timely question: "Do you consider yourself a patriot, and if so, of what and why?"

This exhibit makes the responses of 12 of these heroes, and their portraits, its center-point. Each portrait is produced in a vivid 20 x 30-inch mounted color print, with a sideboard showing the individual’s response in English and Russian, as well as an audio output device that allows visitors to hear the subject’s voice.

Twelve other prints of the same size will share important images from the heroes’ town and the trip more generally.

WHO: Produced by RIS Publications, publishers of Russian Life magazine, and publishers of The Spine of Russia and Driving Down Russia’s Spine.

WHY: To give visitors an intimate look behind the dismal headlines coming out of Russia, to meet Russians where they live, to hear their voices and see them up close and personal.

WHEN: The traveling exhibition can be reserved for dates throughout 2017.


  • 24 large, high quality photographic prints mounted on Gatorboard for display on easels or walls.
  • 12 recording/playback devices allowing visitors to sample the voices of the heroes.
  • Sideboards that attach to the prints, where the quotations and audio sampling devices will be affixed.
  • Travel, lodging, and speaking costs for Paul Richardson, one of the two journalists in the project, to appear at the exhibit’s opening and provide a multimedia introduction at the opening.


  • Shipping and handling charges for the exhibition elements to and from RIS.
  • Unpacking and setup of the exhibit.
  • Breakdown and repacking of the exhibit.
  • Easels or wall mounting, per the preferences of the exhibition space.


  • This is to be a pop-up or temporary exhibit intended to be shown for up to a month each at multiple partner venues in the US throughout 2017.
  • Venue will provide support through hosting an opening reception; setup, breakdown and transshipment of exhibit to the next venue; local marketing and PR.
  • The venue will also sell the books at the opening and in its museum store for the duration of the exhibition. The publisher will offer books on consignment for 50% off the retail price, payable at the close of the exhibition.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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