I hade a great and exciting meeting with our new Russian photographer Oleg Ponomarev in St. Petersburg. The hour we had just passed to quickly. I could have stayed for another three hours listening to Oleg..
In retrospect, I feel really corny having these old fashion ideas of how a Russian photographer would look like and how he would be dressed. In to our meeting point, at my hotell, came a young, modern and very cheerful Russian with twinkling eyes, anything but my old beliefs. After our hour together, I understood more of him and how young Russians think now a days. He carries an immense drive that he uses very skillfully with or perhaps through his camera. Not only does Olegs project “checkpoint”, that piqmo sell, have an interesting story he also has a number of completed and ongoing projects. One of them is “A village School” a project that National Geographic is about to publish. See these photographs further down.
The photographs and the story about “Checkpoint” was brought in to light by Lens Culture. This project required a lot of dubious contacts with security guards in St. Petersburg metro. Why? Well showing x-rays from travelers contents to outsiders and allowing an unknown documentary photographer to recieve photos of the x-rays is of course strictly prohibited. Still many security guards found it interesting and rallied behind Oleg´s project so the only practical option was to allow Oleg to take photos of the x-ray screens. Checkpoint is thus photo on a screen.
The project lasted for months and Oleg could receive unknown incoming calls at any time of day from a variety of security guards who wanted to show him a specific x-ray. Sometimes, he was assigned a certain time and a certain place where someone he did not know took him to places where they could show him x-rays. Oleg says it was like a detective work.
Eventually, he reached the amount and quality of x-rays to what he sought bring to light. His idea is to bring to us all a slap reminder of what our society looks like today. A highly insecure very secured society.. Politicians claim that societys security has never been better as today. Never have we had so many security controls, surveillance cameras and policemen and still the uncertainty among the population, regardless of where in the world we are, is increasing every day. The population does no longer feel that society can protect them and the result of that is that individuals acquire guns for protection.
This is the very sense of Olegs x-ray photo series. Please se more on the gallery.
Another interesting and society-based projects that Oleg has done are “Mari people”. A dying minority from a small village in the middle of Russia. See more here
Oleg’s latest project is “A Village School”. This is a series of photographs, from a small village in Russia, with the intention to finally get politicians to build a school for the children. The photos has been published in National Geographic. The small village was promised a school for over 10 years. Since nothing happens Oleg decided to take matters in to his own hands by bringing the village and the children without a school in to light through his photographs. Everyone can help by signing the petition.