Simon Roberts travelled across Russia between July 2004 and August 2005, making pictures in over 200 locations and creating one of the most extensive, comprehensive photographic accounts of this vast country by a Westerner. His images are not clichéd representations of a Russia ground down by poverty and despair; rather, he presents a beautiful and awe-inspiring land, with a dignified people empowered by a growing optimism and a deeply rooted sense of national esteem. Intimate and revealing portraits of contemporary Russians show us a diverse people, united by a sense of common identity and connected by a shared love of ‘the Motherland’, while breathtaking landscapes reveal the complexity and uniqueness of the country.
The book, designed by the award-winning team at FUEL Design, follows Roberts’ journey chronologically (using a map of his journey as its contents page). The photographs are accompanied by key quotes by literary and political figures that have shaped Russia’s modern identity, alongside Roberts’ own extended informative captions. The book’s introduction by Russian literature expert Rosamund Bartlett provides a context for the photographs, by presenting and discussing the concept of ‘the Motherland’ within Russian history.
“Motherland is a beautifully resolved body of work and the pervading air of melancholy, so suited the subject. The editing together of landscapes and figure studies work powerfully together – and Simon’s eye for the special detail that lifts a picture above a record to become a kind of poetry is evident in every image.”
Martin Barnes, Curator of Photographs, V&A