Interview with Misha Maslennikov at "Calvert Journal".

Born in 1964 in Dobroe, near Moscow, Misha Maslennikov nearly became a priest before “receiving the blessing to photograph”. He’s shot five major series — Chukotka is a land of loneliness (2007), Kolodozero (2007-09), The lost universe (2008), The Volga Viatka earth (2010), and The Don steppe (2010-12) — some of which show explicitly religious communities, but all of which show small settlements of people living close to the land. To Maslennikov they express something similar either way, and he sends me a poem by Joseph Brodsky by way of an explanation. The opening lines read: “In villages God does not live in [icon] corners / as skeptics think. He’s everywhere.”

“On the one hand, I would like to show the spiritual practice of people who have dedicated their lives to God,” Maslennikov adds. “On the other hand, I try to ensure my images remain within the framework of documentary photography and read for any viewer, regardless of their faith or which part of society they belong to.”

Within this ambition his work ranges from the Far North of Russia, where fishing boats come face-to-face with walruses, to the Don steppe in the Rostov-on-Don region, where people grow melons and swim in the rivers. “In different regions, the nature is beautiful in its own way,” says Maslennikov. “From time immemorial, people have lived in harmony with nature, and in my photographs I pay special attention to their surroundings.”

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