Motherland - Photographs Of Russia At Belfast Exposed

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 18 January 2008
photo of three vans in a snowy landscape

© Simon Roberts

Exhibition Preview - Motherland by Simon Roberts at Belfast Exposed Photography, until March 7 2008.

Photographs from the wild, frozen and rather alien Russian Far East through to the westerly climes of the Volga River are on show at Belfast Exposed this winter, in an exhibition of works by Simon Roberts.

Entitled Motherland, the body on display features incredible landscapes and the fur-clad people of the Siberian province, the Kola Peninsula and Kaliningrad, the Northern Caucasus, Altai Mountains and Volga River.

Roberts took the images over the course of year-long travels covering 75,000km, during which he crossed 11 time zones. His key wish is to document the post-Soviet country as it is in reality, without over-emphasising its problems like so many representations in the western media.

“I wanted to counter some of the photographic representations of Russia that focus on collapse and deterioration – with their emphasis on the consequences of Russia’s turbulent past as opposed to the possibilities of its future – without sidestepping the realities of Russian daily life,” said the artist.

photo of a couple in fur coats in a snowy scene before a large modern building

© Simon Roberts

Roberts began his photography career following a degree in Human Geography at the University of Sheffield, after which he gained a Distinction in Photojournalism from the National Union for the Training of Journalists.

He has taken images around the world, notably in the Ukraine, North America, Zimbabwe, Israel and Palestine, and his work features in international publications and the national UK newspapers.

While the exhibition features 26 prints, an accompanying publication of the same name includes 150 works.

“Motherland is a remarkably sensitive, optimistic and empathetic comment on Russian identity during a time of enormous change,” commented Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs, National Media Museum. “Roberts’ work is significant because it returns to traditional documentary values, eschewing representations of Russia as a decaying country defined by alcoholism, drug abuse and violence.’

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