“Mzensk”: Anastasia Tsayder Captures the Idyllic Village of her Grandmother

In her series “Mzensk”, Russian photographer Anastasia Tsayder presents an ideal depiction of the Russian provinces. The photographs, she writes, “reveal something previously unseen or more likely irrevocably lost and yet familiar – from paintings, book illustrations and films.” The project was shot in a place called Borki in the Kursk region of Russia – the village of Anastasia’s grandmother, where she used to spend her childhood summers.

The series explores the traditional interior of the Russian rural house, especially summer kitchens that often exist as separate buildings adjacent to village homes. All pictures were taken inside rural houses close to the Russian-Ukrainian border where restricted access has slowed down changes. The interiors are depicted ‘as-is’ without intervention from the photographer. We see family photographs, old curtains, Orthodox icons, a television, a fridge in an enchanting simplicity. The effect achieved is similar to the art of two photographers previously mentioned on this blog – Ula Wiznerowicz (Poland) and Dimitri Mais (Georgia).

Inspired by the aesthetics of classical Russian literature, Anastasia selectively leaves outside the frame the trappings of modernity. She places the images on a timeless plane. Deprived of a sense of belonging to a particular period, the images are drawn one step away from their normal space, and get closer to the mythical “Mzensk” – a place used in the title of a 1865 novella called Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk by the writer Nikolai Leskov (1831–1895).

Anastasia Tsayder was born in 1983 in St. Petersburg and is currently based in Moscow. She graduated from the Faculty of Photojournalism of St. Petersburg Journalists’ Union. Her work has appeared in Forbes (Russia), Bloomberg BusinessweekDie ZeitWashington Post, D – la RepublicaLensculture, The Guardian and several other outlets. She has recently exhibited at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Museo Dinamico del Laterzio e delle Terrecotte, Umbria, Italy.

Links: Website (tsayder.com) | Gallery (www.schiltpublishing.com)

Images used with permission.