Once, when I arrived at the village of Ufa-Shigiri in the south of the Sverdlovsk region, I saw girls in national costumes walking to the store. That day was not a national holiday, and they were not going to pose for photos, they were just walking about their business. I was pleasantly surprised and puzzled, because shortly before, a curator I knew from China asked me to take photos of my family wearing national costumes for the exhibition. At that moment I realized that not only did I not know anything about the history of our costumes, but if we found them and wore them for shooting, we would look like mummers.
To find out why this happens, I decided to conduct a visual anthropological study of two villages to compare them. The choice was based on several principles: the villages should be quite far from the metropolis to reduce the influence of the city, with approximately the same population size, with a great historical heritage, located on opposite sides of the border between Europe and Asia and a different national composition of residents. In the end, I chose:
Ufa-Shigiri village Mironovo village settlement
137 km from Ekaterinburg to the southwest 133 km from Ekaterinburg to the northeast
population size ~ 550 people population size ~ 790 people
the history of the village begins in 1647 the history of the village begins in 1662
the main population is Tatars, Bashkirs the main population is Russians
As the basis for the study, I used residents' work activities. On the one hand, I see a certain symbolism here because the junction of the two continents, Europe and Asia, is marked in the landscape by a mountain range, and this range is considered a symbol of labor and physical energy. On the other hand, the diversity of professions within one village allows residents to exist autonomously relative to the regional center and feel needed, contributing to society.
During the shoot, I took pictures of everyone who was willing to participate. And as a result, I can say that every single person who forms the backbone of the village community got into the shot. It is a very direct and honest look without any hint of staging or manipulation.