About the Artist: Born in Moscow in 1977, the documentary photographer Ekaterina Solovieva has lived in Hamburg since 2006. Her work focusses mainly on the life of simple country folk living in countries of the former Soviet Union. She places a particular emphasis on religious traditions and customs. Her ПАЛОМНИКИ (Pilgrimage) photo book was published by Bad Weather Press in January of 2014.
Works have been published in many Foreign and Russian magazines and online blogs such as: BBC Russian, Russia Today, Leica Russia Blog, GEO, Leica Photography International, DOC! Magazine, C41 Magazine, Square Space Magazine, etc. Many projects were exhibited as installations, exhibitions and screenings worldwide.
Statement: The Earth´s circle. Kolodozero
The village of Kolodozero, deeply concealed in the woods of Pudozh, is located on the border between Arkhangelsk Oblast and Karelia. In ancient times, people settled on the northern flanks of the local bodies of water—rivers and lakes. Kolodozero therefore consists of a handful of small hamlets—Lakhta, Isakovo, Ust’-Reka, Pogost’, Zaozerye, and Dubovo. Houses are scattered along the picturesque lake’s shores and capes. Fifteen years ago, these places enchanted three friends from Moscow who were strolling around the north and searching for the meaning of life, and most likely, themselves as well. In 2001, they jointly gathered resources and started building a new church to replace the old one that was burned down back in 1977. One of the friends, the redhead rebel and punk Arkady Shlykov, who graduated from the Moscow Spiritual Seminary, accepted the ordination in 2005. A 40 years later, therefore, parochial life was born anew in the village. The stern locals at first cast much suspicion onto the shaggy-haired, rockstar-resembling priest, but later on came to love him wholeheartedly. They accepted his freedom, both external and internal, and appreciated his character—peace-loving and gentle. This is a story about the people of the Russian North, about what keeps them together, about the spirit and soul, about their passions and emotions.
Below, Ekaterina answered a few more questions about her series and photography practice!
Why did you choose photography over other artistic mediums?
Photography was my hobby during childhood. When I turned 30, I returned to it choosing a combination of picture and text as a way to express my feelings. My studies at the journalistic faculty that probably affected this decision. I was always interested in the life of Russian province. Later, I began to document it with camera and to write texts.
How did this series start for you creatively?
Eight years ago my friend brought me to a remote village in the south of Karelia. Right from the beginning I was fascinated by the spirit of freedom of this place, by the calm beauty of the northern nature, but most of all – by the protagonist of this story, the village priest Arkadiy Shlykov. An ex-punk, absolutely free, he was totally different from any other orthodox priest I had met before. His friendliness, readiness to help, his humor, the way he lead his service, and his music preferences made me see that I wanted to come back to this village and this priest to make a long-time documentary project. Then, in the summer 2009, I shot my first film in Kolodozero. Since then I can't even count how many times I have been there. Kolodozero became a part of my life.
What reflections have you come to after finishing this series? If you are still working on the series, what revelations have come up while creating the series?
I was done with the series in the summer of 2017. In April 2015, I had the first exhibition on this project, which was still in progress at that time. In the same year, my work appeared in a small photozine in a Spanish publishing office called Unknown Books. In March 2016, a book maquette with my photos and texts was created. In parallel I had exhibitions in Hamburg, Venice, and Berlin, and Krasnodar. The reaction of visitors, journalists, curators, gallerists, and just friends strengthened me into the thought that I have to finish this book. In April 2018, it is set to be published with Schilt Publishing.
Do you ever get in creative slumps? If you do, how do you get out of them? If not, what methods have you created not to get into a slump?
Of course. Everyone engaged in creative business gets into slumps. Sometimes it is better just to make a break, stop and set the project on hold. Couple of months or half a year. Then find someone who is spiritually close, but didn't see the project yet and knows little about it and show it to them. An opinion of a sensitive person on the same wave length as you can give you a new perspective for your work. Another way is going to festivals and visiting museums. Each classical arts museum is a stimulating source of inspiration for the work.
Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you would recommend people to check out?
Alec Soth “Sleeping by the Mississippi”
Pentti Sammallahti “Here Far Away”
Emil Gataullin “Towards the Horizon”
Oleg Videnin “The Return Route”
“The Return” (2003) Andrey Zvyagintsev
“Elelna” (2011) Andrey Zvyagintsev
“A River Runs Through It” (1992) Robert Redford
DOC! Photo Magazine
Lastly, what artists are currently inspiring you?
Oleg Videnin, Emil Gataullin and Pentti Sammallahti.