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Text Ashleigh Kane @ Dazed and Confused Magazine
This photographer is hoping to show Russia for more than its questionable politics by shining a light on the spirit of its young people.
“I think my teen years were pretty standard until I got into skateboarding. It was mind-blowing at that time,” muses Stas Galaktionov, a 24-year-old photographer from Moscow whose new zine, aptly titled “Young”, follows his friends around the Russian capital in a series of grainy, candid black and white shots. Self-taught, Galaktionov reveals that after coming across American skate videos as a teen he began to hammer out his own personal style and interests. “I was amazed that every skateboarder had his own style. It was a different world. A lot of cool, creative people here in Moscow were skateboarders when they were teenagers. Now, in the internet era, teenagers are more or less the same as in Europe or America.”
The photographer says that he sees an exciting and positive progression occurring among his generation, although he’s still wary that old traditions hang heavy over their heads. “In Moscow, I find young people to be a lot more open-minded than previous generations. There’s a gap between people with a Soviet background and young people,” he riffs. “Older people have different priorities and different views, and that’s what I think is the biggest issue for youth – cause you face it very often. Moscow is a big chaotic city, it’s overpopulated and sometimes its rhythm makes you crazy. There are times when it gets difficult to stand and all you want is to escape. It’s the main disappointment and, at the same time, the main attraction – life here is very unpredictable.”
Through his lens, he’s trying to shift the stale image of Russia that has been built up around the country for decades. “With the situation in Ukraine, all the Russian-related news has a political context. I’m trying to show that there’s a generation of people who are different – that there are people who just want to do their own thing and live their lives outside of all this mess going on. I’m trying to show that young people have a different lifestyle to what mass media or society try to impose,” he explains. “I’m fascinated by youth – young people have fire in their eyes, they are not afraid of experimenting and have a need for everything new and fresh. It’s a special period and I’m trying to document that we live in strange, but fascinating times.”