Untold Stories of Russian Summer

Varvara Gorbunova

2021 - Ongoing

Samara, Russia

Whenever one thinks of Russia, what usually comes to mind is something cold, distant and unattainable. As a person who was born and brought up there for most of her life, it was always very confusing for me to see the image of my country through the eyes of people in the west in comparison to how I saw it. Since I moved to Europe I had endless conversations with people about Russia, and the more I heard the more frustrated I would get as, being perceived in this role of the universal enemy in the political context, we are stripped of any kind of humanity in the world’s eyes. Harsh, closed off, melancholic, outlandish.

That is when I felt the urge of creating a body of work that would reflect my own perception of Russia, my home and how different it is from the perception of the outside world. This project, however, has no ambition of presenting itself as a social documentary, but rather a careful, very intimate observation through my family and my hometown, my attempt to capture the intimacy and warmth that is present in the smallest daily interactions and in the most casual of places. I wanted to breathe humanity and softness back into the cultural frame.

While shooting during the summertime, I am asking myself the same question again and again: Yes, everyone knows about our fierce and extremely cold winters, but has anybody ever heard about glorious Russian summers, full of joy and life?

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