The Borders of Russia
A complicated Soviet past coupled with the vast geography of Russia has made border territories a problematic area politically, physically and culturally. The inherent disturbance of boundaries, whether due to the process of unification or disintegration, have always been connected with the issue of self-loss. Border territories, as the most distant and disturbed areas of the country, illustrate like no other, the state of present-day Russia; how it is shaping its identity and its relationship with the Soviet consciousness, which it seeks to both outlive and preserve.
The project has taken an approach of an ethnographical journey, an investigation of the political and cultural symbols we naturally or artificially embed in the surrounding landscapes to mark the territory with what relates to or signifies our identity. It explores the connection between the disturbance of territorial boundaries and identities and serves as a study of cultural symbols associated with collective identity and landscape as its metaphoric representation.
The Borders of Russia is a project supported by IdeasTap.
Maria Gruzdeva is a Russian-born photographer based in London. Being physically away from her country of origin for the past few years, she is able to offer a unique perspective on processes taking place there, investigating into Russia's post-Soviet conscientiousness, identity and aesthetics. She draws inspiration from the prominent Western artists and art theory, however issues connecting her native country's past and present remain central to her work. She usually works on long-term documentary projects, underpinned by extensive research.
In 2010 Maria graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art in Design with First class honours. In the same year she also completed her first major project Direction–Space!, which was exhibited internationally and published into a book by Dewi Lewis publishing in 2011. She then went to continue her studies at London College of Communication, receiving a Masters Degree in Photography with Distinction in 2011.
She is a recipient of the annual Joss Turley award, Ideastap & Magnum Photos Photographic Award, winner of the Magenta Flash Forward Emerging Photographer 2012, FFWY2012 and other competitions. Her work has been exhibited internationally, with group and solo shows in Russia, UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Malaysia. Her work was also featured in a number of photographic festivals, including Les Rencontres d'Arles and Bristol Photo Forum.
The featured photographer for February 2013 was Maria Gruzdeva