This is Omsk, Siberia in 2007 and 2008. This is after the Chechen wars but before the Georgian Russo war of 2008 and the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. There was still a glimmer of hope for the liberal minded people of Russia.
In 2007 I was interested in this colorful and creative bubble that existed in the middle of Siberia and in the middle of the Eurasian continent.
Omsk is one of the most isolated and physically disconnected cities on the planet, yet the creative mind and spirit persisted.
Now Russia wages a brutal war of termination in Ukraine and all liberal thought has been squashed. What is happening in Omsk? Where are these people?
One of my first moments upon arriving was meeting and hanging with this band who called themselves En Face. “En Face” is a French term meaning “facing forward”, which for 2007 was appropriately optimistic. I got excited and talked about tour possibilities. Bring these guys to Brooklyn and they could have been on the scene. But they couldn’t be that ambitious. Traveling to the next city was too much as well. Staying put in Omsk and rereading their Russian copy of “Please Kill Me” was going to be it.
A necessary post practice diner visit.
In a downtown warehouse district, fashion is being created and documented.
We spent an afternoon strolling along the wooded banks of the Irtysh River. Looming up above is the regional headquarters of the FSB. I was brought in for several hours to be interviewed. Why am I taking pictures? Am I a spy? Luckily my host’s father was a captain in the FSB and smoothed things over.
More makers in their home studio.
Omsk Fashion Design School hosting their end of semester show.
And the -60C degrees temperatures outisde made the interior refuges more necessary and intense.