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A true artist, Sergey Maximishin, relies on the language of his images – elegant, convincing, recognizable, and always clear. He does not want to soothe our anxieties, he does not want to give answers. From Moscow to Kamchatka, from St. Petersburg to Chechnya – Russia has a lot of enemies: poverty, diseases, greed, riches obtained unjustly and outrageously. He has no time to praise beloved heroes. The favourite protagonists of his wordless tales are often nameless. Specific times, specific places – Sergey catches the essence of each and every character. Masterfully, switching his narrative tones, mixing drama and irony, he does not resort to cynicism or useless flattery.

Maximishin avoids the spotlight, both when he hides behind his camera during a shoot and during the World Press award ceremonies, succumbing to his natural leaning to modesty and discretion: he observes and captures the moment. His down-to-earth attitude helps him create priceless images for generations to come. His sincere empathy with his characters makes us enjoy even the harshest subject matters: prisons and mayhem backgrounds make us think. They do not repulse us. Sergey gracefully and tastefully, unconsciously interprets the reference points of the West, dismantles them and offers new readings which in turn are shaded, controversial or modern: nowadays one can reach Bulgakov’s Vorobievy Hills by chair lift dressed like a businessman or fishing shirtless among no-name skyscrapers; modern-day Raskolnikovs (ÇCrime and PunishmentÈ) get Nazi symbols tattooed on their arms; a Russian Orthodox priest coming out of the water resembles a reborn Rasputin; Zov Ilyicha (Lenin’s Call) is nothing but a restaurant with gather-belt wearing waitresses; contemporary icons are sullied by pagan elements; Count Vronsky is a nouveau riche surrounded by women in mini-skirts.

Ultimately, having paged through the book for the first, the second and the third time, the most indelible impression is the sweetness and depth of Maximishin’s eye which settles on almost all the characters in his photographs: the rich colors and naturally tasteful composition give back power and integrity to the women baking bread on Holy Saturday, a child from Grozny trying to get attention of a kitten, teachers from Chechnya who, dressed like peasants, renovate a war-destroyed school, fishermen from Kazakhstan, prisoners from St. Petersburg, and employees of the Mariinsky Theatre and the Hermitage Museum who keep a fairy tale alive for a few rubles. Maximishin’s images remind us that the former empire houses everything and everyone in its post-Perestroika era: real people trying to trudge and fake czars; the rush to be modern and the emotional attachment to the past; sincere love for their land and nationalism at its worst. And that today, as before, devilish Voland lies in ambush.

Chiara Mariani, Director of photography at Corriere della Sera Magazine, Italy
 

Sergey Maximishin, Irtysh river, Tobolsk, 2005
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Sergey Maximishin, St Alexander Svirsky, Lennigrad region, 2002
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Sergey Maximishin, St Alexander Svirsky, Lennigrad region, 2002
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Sergey Maximishin, Parade, Saint Peterburg, 1999
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Sergey Maximishin, Vladimir Poutine, Saint Petersburg, 2003
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Sergey Maximishin, Summer time, 2008
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Sergey Maximishin, Chechnya, 2000
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Sergey Maximishin, Neo Nazi, Saint Petersburg, 2004
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Sergey Maximishin, Caricature contest, Kresty prison, 1999
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Sergey Maximishin, Walls, Saint Petersburg, 2004
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Sergey Maximishin, Tea time at the psycho-neurologic asylum n7, 2003
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Sergey Maximishin, Mao Restaurant, Saint Petersburg, 2002
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Sergey Maximishin, Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, 2000
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Sergey Maximishin, Circus bus, Saint Petersburg, 2000
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Sergey Maximishin, Saint Petersburg, 2002
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Sergey Maximishin, Fountains, Chechnya, 2003
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