Saint Petersburg / Russia.
Oleg Ponomarev, born in 1988. He studied photography at the St Petersburg Union of Journalists and continued developing his photography working for Sergei Maximishin, one of Russias most known photographer. Oleg had won several international contests for photography and took part in several collective exhibitions, including the Russian Museum contemporary photography biennale and Russia's Festival of Young Photographers.
His artworks are presented at The State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Museum of Russian Photography in Moscow. His photographic works are often long-term projects focused on social problems in modern Russia, and ethnographic projects dedicated for research of the today low-numbered vanishing ethnic groups
"Different art" with Sumbur
Different Arts by Oleg Ponomarev is a photographic documentary study from a rehabilitation institution for psychoneurologic dispensary in St Petersburg. The institution chooses Art as one part of their therapy to fight mental illnesses.
«Sumbur» (translated to mishmash) is a theater group established in this rehabilitation center and the characters of the project are patients. An actor who gets into his character, lives “different life”, balancing between reality and fantasy world. They feel like acting stars and as part of society. The characters of this photographic project, knows about existing in another reality and the power of transformation.
As for their diagnoses they have very different illnesses, from different forms of psychological disorders, to extreme schizophrenia and down’s syndrome, But the project is not about illness, it is about hope and therefore the illnesses are not in focus.
The Sardayal village is located in the Mari region, which is about 1.000 km east of Moscow. The school was founded in 1884. It might be the oldest school in the district. Everything is original here and it looks like nothing has changed for the last 50 years. After walking through the school gates, you feel like a pilot of a time machine who found himself on the set of a naive and beautiful Soviet movie. It´s like being in a country that you do not remember or in a country that does not exist. No detail or piece of furniture stands out from the general scale: color of the walls, door carving, creaking floorboards, the smell of wood, large windows with wooden frames which exposes the rural landscape, the smell of the dining room, the stove which is needed for school heating, linen aprons and hats for the labor lesson — everything is harmonious. All of these combine into a surprisingly heartwarming image of something disappearing and truly wonderful.
The village school
Mari people. The Last Pagans of Europe
The Mari people are the last representatives of paganism in Russia. Although the Mari people are located in close partnership with other nationalities as Russians, Tatars, Udmurts, they managed to preserve their unique culture, traditions and faith. Religion is the cornerstone on which to build a culture and "way of thinking" Mari. The main and inviolable rule is the harmony with the environment, careful use, rather than the destruction or transformation of nature. The earth has given us everything necessary for life, we can only to use it with respect and don't forget to thank the Gods for their gifts. Forest instead of the temple, the tree trunk instead of the face icons, the blows of the axe on the blade of a knife instead of ritual music and the animals as a gift to the Gods of earth and heaven.