The real punks of Russia
In the summer of 2013, photographer Cassandra Giraldo traveled to Russia in search of “real punk”.
It was the year after two members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot had been arrested and sentenced to prison for organizing an anti-Putin concert in Moscow. But Giraldo wanted to find the children who had long lived and breathed the radical ideologies preached by Pussy Riot.
With the support of a Italian Photography Program, Giraldo flew from Brooklyn to St. Petersburg without a single lead for his story. She spent her first day wandering the city, rummaging around places she thought her subjects might hang out – skateparks, dismal concert halls, and more. – until late at night, she encountered a group of dirty-looking boys outside a noisy bar. blaring garage music. Their alien haircuts, numerous piercings, and full coverage tattoos do the trick.
She made her presentation to the English speaker, and they agreed to let her spend the following week following them with her camera in hand.
Just like that, she immersed herself in the universe of these young rebellious foreigners. “It was all very fortuitous,” Giraldo said The week in an interview. “Every new person I’ve met, something has happened.”
The Russian punk scene emerged a few years after its American and British counterparts, in the late 1970s as a marginal offshoot of rock music. As a movement, punk culture has always pushed against the mainstream. But the Soviet Union pushed back, lay a wide net of censorship around everything related to look and culture, and the labeling of punk bands enemies of the state.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, punk became commercial in Russia. And at the dawn of the millennium, a new politically charged punk counterculture emerged. Instead of nightclubs and bars, bands performed in riots and political rallies. In just a few years, Russian punks were synonymous with anti-fascist movement.
Politics was indeed a common thread spanning the punks Giraldo met and photographed – their austere veganism was a political statement against capitalist food industries, and the little money they had spent raising funds for their fellow activists who had been imprisoned for organizing demonstrations and demonstrations.
But economic forces also played a role in bringing these young punks together: many lived in inadequate housing, crouched in abandoned buildings, and shared tiny spaces filled with too many bodies. Some had dull day jobs that didn’t matter much to them; others were unemployed and looking for direction.
Although Giraldo was initially drawn to the authentic punk look and their extravagant characters, she was artistically inspired by the ordinary and almost universal moments of their young lives: wandering dark suburban streets in a drunken haze, evacuating after- hours. calm noon on art and seek a goal. by fighting “man”, whoever he is.
“These are young people in their early twenties who are sort of in between, just like anyone in any part of the world who is trying to figure out who they want to be,” she said. “It’s something that is universal, and we happen to be in Russia.”
In the end, Giraldo seemed reluctant to label the collection of young people with whom she spent this week in 2013.
“I met the whole range of kids who were very politically engaged, who went to demonstrations, and then others who were just young people in their twenties, in between jobs who were just trying to bond over this. identity, ”she said. “Young people are very similar in a kind of ‘globalized world’. We share great cultures, and that’s what connects us.”