National self-identification is a thorny issue today in Russia. Millions of people talk about the sense of belonging to their own country trying to get united into “imagined communities”. These communities may have three different mythological images of modern Russia. The first one is the image of the Soviet Union. Its myth is about the golden age of the country existence where modern Russia is a stump of the USSR. The second image is the Russian Empire. Russians connect it with the hope to “recover the historical continuity” and over ethnic superiority that appeals to pure blood. The third image brings us back to the roots, based on the fact that Russian ethnicities are ancient and unique. Thus, the state policy is supposed to facilitate the citizens get answers to the questions: “Who we are?” “Where are we from?” “Where are we heading to?”, as well as to explain the historical and actual sense of the country existence. Even excitement and competitive spirit of an athlete at the Olympics fades away when he has no image of his own country.
Within the global crisis, the Winter Olympics in Russia and the transformed city of Sochi could become a symbol of new ideology for an emerging democratic state. But there were no new tokens of Russian statehood found. The mixture of easily identified realities appeared in front of my lens. It seems that the image of the country was formed by soviet past and modern television.
Probably the only one common element was the proverbial Russian tricolor. Soviet symbolic signs and pseudo-Russian traditional shirts “kosovototki” mixed with glamor colorful brand sports apparel. All this makes me smile unintentionally. But this is just a vivid proof that modern Russia is still far from the West as well as from the East, and just goes its own way.
Julia Abzaltdinova was born in Ekaterinburg, Russia in 1984 in the family of photography lovers. She took an interest in photography when she was in high school. When she was a student at University, she attended «PhotoThursday» photo-club at the Metenkov Photography Museum. When she was 20 she has graduated from several private photography schools and started earning a living by photographing.
In early 2009 she decided to change the direction of her career and go with art and documentary photography. Since 2010 she has been working on a project about the modifications in the city of Sochi due to the 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2011 she entered the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia, the course of Documentary Photography by Valeriy Nistratov. In 2014 she is to graduate. Currently she works in Moscow, Sochi and Ural.
Project The Big Game by Julia Abzaltdinova has been awarded with Third Place Award in People category at Photogrvphy Grant 2016.