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This picture series of daily life in a small village in the Russian constituent republic of Karelia came about just by chance. At first, Aleksey Myakishev simply enjoyed photographing his surroundings; but soon he became increasingly aware of the fact that this village was something special. Even years after his first visit in 2011, something continues to draw him back regularly to this magical place – a place imbued with serenity, beauty and grandeur.

LFI: What is, in your opinion, so unique and special about Kolodozero?
Aleksey Myakishev: Kolodozero is a fairly common village; there are thousands of such villages in Russia. It became special to me because I learnt about some people who built a temple there; and I was interested in the story of some friends who ran away from the bustle of the city and decided to live in the village. Now I’m interested in the particular story of a friend of mine, who is restoring the old shopping arcade all on his own.

How would you describe the daily life of the people living there?
The people in Kolodozero live off subsistence farming, growing vegetables, as well as fishing, hunting and logging. There’s not much work to be had, but people survive as best they can. Young people don’t stay in the village; they leave for the city. Old people die and houses are slowly emptying; but life doesn’t stand still. It’s interesting for me to record this cycle of life on camera.

Your images are poetic and serene, yet very strong. What type of situations move you to take a picture?
My Leica is always with me, and I capture all kinds of moments, because they will never happen again. I love people and don’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about life with them. I admire the nature of those places and it inspires me. I’ve not encountered such silence and beauty anywhere else. My feelings and emotions are expressed in my photographs.

What are the biggest influences on your photography?
My photography has been influenced most by the study of art as a phenomenon. I try to understand the excitement and worries felt by artists of the past and of the present. Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, as well as Sergei Lobovikov, a Russian photographer from the early 20th century, have revolutionised my mind. (Interview: Danilo Rößger)

All images on this page: © Aleksey Myakishev
Equipment: Leica M-P and Leica M4 with Summarit-M 35 f/2.4 Asph., Summicron-M 50 f/2 Asph. and Elmarit-M 90 f/2.8

Kolodozero, together with further works by Alyona Kochetkova and Grigory Yaroshenko, will remain on display up until February 27, 2021, within the framework of the EAST.EYES.EFFECT exhibition at the Leica Gallery Vienna.

Further information about the Kolodozero photo book can be found at bergger.com
© Pavel Smertin

Aleksey Myakishev

Aleksey Myakishev was born in Kirov (Vyatka) in 1971 and has worked as a professional photojournalist since 1991. In 1999, he moved to Moscow and became a freelance photographer. He has contributed to multiple periodicals, including Newsweek, Kommersant [The Businessman] (Russia), Helsingin Sanomat, APU, and Talouselama (Finland). In 1996 and 1997, he was granted a scholarship by the Russian Ministry of Culture. In 1998 and 2001, Myakishev won InterFoto Festival of Documentary Photography (Moscow) awards for his series about pilgrims and about the North Urals. He has held around 20 solo exhibitions of his work.

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