Estonia's Alexander Gronsky Photographs The Moscow Suburbs

Culture Trip

Estonian photographer Alexander Gronsky’s large-scale photographs of the Russian suburbs show a landscape in which the human has been marginalised, and the natural world is drained of its life force. In these works, both man and nature are dwarfed by the homogenous apartment blocks that house Moscow’s lower classes. Gronsky blends a pastoral perspective with a dehumanised, ironic distance, suggesting both a retreat from urban life and its apotheosis. We take a look at his work.

Pavshino V, Suburbs of Moscow, Russia, 2012

Gronsky’s Pastoral series of large-format photographs of Moscow’s suburban areas are reminiscent of the arcadian images created by 19th-century landscape painters and the series reconstructs them in a way that jars with the romantic representations of a bygone era. Once defining borders becomes blurred in these photographs – the divisions between urban and pastoral, utopian and dystopian and the actors within these spaces are rendered ambiguous.
Gronsky’s arresting use of colour and intelligent compositions are alluring, but these layered works are a study of how people inhabit a territory and what becomes evident in these images is the effect human life has on the environment in this Apothocene age.

Mar’ino, Suburbs of Moscow, Russia

Previously exhibited at London’s Wapping Project Bankside were three works from Gronsky’s Reconstruction series that documents re-enactments of historic Russian battles whilst simultaneously rendering them anachronistic with the inclusion of onlookers into the frame. Constructed as triptychs, these works are filmic in nature and allude to a panoramic view of an important battle, whilst titles such as Siege of Leningrad are reminiscent of a Hollywood film. Continuing Gronsky’s study of perspective, in these works it appears formal whilst the colouring offers a certain flatness to the photographs.

Siege of Leningrad

Alexander Gronsky was born in 1980 in Tallinn, Estonia. He began work as a photographer in 1998 and joined the agency in 2003, His photographic works have been published in numerous international newspapers and magazines such as Art+ Auction, Intelligent Life, National Geographic and Condé Nast Traveller. Gronsky has won numerous photographic prizes including the World Press Photo third place for Daily Life stories (2012), Foam Paul Huf Award (2010) and the Aperture Portfolio Prize (2009).

Krasnogorsk II, Suburbs of Moscow
Strogino I, Suburbs of Moscow
Pavshino II, Suburbs of Moscow
Pavshino I, Suburbs of Moscow
Dzerzhinskiy II, Suburbs of Moscow
Pavshino V, Suburbs of Moscow

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