As part of my research for assignment 3 I came across the work of Alexey Titarenko. It has had a significant effect on my thinking and heavily influenced my latest assignment.
Titatenko is a Russian photographer, now living in New York. Born in 1962 in the then Soviet city of Leningrad much of his early work captures his home city in the most evocative and haunting manner. Shooting with a 6×6 medium format film camera and using slow shutter speeds, his images paint a haunting and personal picture of the city of his birth during a time of great transition. To me his images have a beautiful ethereal quality, but their power is in the record they offer of a pivotal moment in Soviet history. Although at first glance they are far from classic documentary photography, they tell the story of the fall of the Soviet Union in a unique and inspiring way.
The ghostly phantom like figures in his slow shutter square images record the mass movement of the citizens of Leningrad in their hunt for food and supplies in the cities shops as communist supply chains failed. By placing himself at key train stations, roads and metro station entrances he captured the mass movement of the people in search of food. Queuing had in the past been a feature of the soviet economy and as the state apparatus failed citizens reverted to old habits. To me the images in the you tube video below says as much, if not more, about what was happening in the city as any number of news report. Titarenko’s work for me, challenges the notion of documentary photography and bridges the genre to fine art even abstract image making.
However there is more! In his latest book, The City is a Novel, which I can’t put down, he also presents an argument that he is capturing both a truth and a fiction simultaneously. I will follow this blog entry with a review of this inspiring book when I have read it for the fifth time!