Today I wanted to share some fascinating Russian photography collections with you 📷
Irina Popova is a Russian photographer and I recently came across her photobooks If You Have a Secret and LTP on her website.
I am slightly late to the party, though. If You Have a Secret was published in 2014 and LTP in 2015 but Popova is currently crowdfunding a project to find and photograph the 8000 other Irina Popovas and compile a collection called the Incomplete Princess Book.
If You Have a Secret is a book of photographs of everyday Russia. The collection has been made into a video which showcases the powerful way that Popova puts jarring images next to snowy scenes next to photographs of couples with an inspiring true-to-life touch. It’s interesting and also key to keep in mind that this is the artist’s reaction to her ‘motherland’, described here:
The ‘mysterious Russian soul’ however, is by nature complicated, uncontrollable and absurd, making the task of finding one image impossible and therefore resulting in the series, If You Have a Secret. The images represent the ‘lost generation’, people steeped in poverty and hardship, yet somehow colourful and full of hope. […] The artist states, “you feel at the same time unbearable pain and highest joy” that is so typical of modern Russia.
Definitely worth a look! Find the video here.
The second, thought provoking collection I wanted to share with you is LTP. It is made up of photos that Popova took when she went to Belarus’s detention centre for alcoholics and substance abusers.
As this article explains, these “rehab prisons” were part of a Soviet-era justice system which attempted to cure dependencies through labour. There are 8 centres of this kind in Belarus, with just a 5% rate of efficacy.
Here is the photobook video. Popova’s use of light is pretty glorious on its own, but the uneasy “I-cannot-believe-this-is-real” feeling makes it a gripping watch.