Five photographers have launched a documentary project called ‘Heroes of Our Time’ that shows Moscow through their lenses during the pandemic. While most of the city population was forced to stay at home, life didn’t end and Moscow kept operating, thanks to the efforts of brave men and women: doctors, workers, delivery people and city services. The photographers decided to capture the city atmosphere amidst this dramatic and unique historical occurrence.
German documentary photographer Nanna Heitmann was in Moscow when the outbreak began. At first, she wanted to escape into Russia’s hinterland. “But I realised that there is no place to hide, as it will involve the whole planet. I decided to stay and work in Moscow, because it is extremely interesting and important.” As a result, Nanna spent the whole day in an infection hospital in Moscow, took a range of portraits of doctors and even present while a COVID-infected woman gave birth. She also visited an empty Orthodox church and captured images of a priest who kept holding services no matter what.
Before the red zonemoscowwithyou.ru / Nanna Heitmann,Magnum Photos, 2020
A hospital canteenmoscowwithyou.ru / Nanna Heitmann,Magnum Photos, 2020
After a long work daymoscowwithyou.ru / Nanna Heitmann,Magnum Photos, 2020
The Church of St. Nicholas on Three Hillsmoscowwithyou.ru / Nanna Heitmann,Magnum Photos, 2020
Arsen Revazov managed to walk around Moscow and took pictures of its main tourist sights - the Red Square, VDNKh (a Soviet era park) and Gorky Park. Usually, these places are packed, but during the lockdown people disappeared from them completely. Arsen says that it was the first time he had a chance to take pictures of absolutely empty streets. The photographer admits that those few people still around helped him a lot with his work, be it taxi drivers who took him to places or traffic police officers who helped with his road shots.
An empty Red Square, May 12.moscowwithyou.ru / Arsen Revazov, 2020
Four Seasons Hotel and Revolution Square.moscowwithyou.ru / Arsen Revazov, 2020
The ‘Moscow City’ Business Centermoscowwithyou.ru / Arsen Revazov, 2020
Alexei Kiselev, on the other hand, tried to find life in an otherwise empty city. His series of photos is called ‘The walk’ and he captured the lives of those who kept working - drivers, couriers, officers, and also people who kept going out - to walk their dog, for example. All of them were photographed in face masks, the new “fashion accessory” of Spring 2020.
Photographer Margo Ovcharenko took pictures in several Moscow hospitals, where she captured medical staff both before and after their shifts. She admits these two states were completely different, and she saw how tired these people were after many hours fighting the virus. Margo also visited Moscow hotels where medical staff were often put up so as to not potentially infect their relatives at home.
The National hotel reception.moscowwithyou.ru / Margo Ovcharenko, 2020
A taxi drivermoscowwithyou.ru / Margo Ovcharenko, 2020
A sewing factory making face masksmoscowwithyou.ru / Margo Ovcharenko, 2020
Acclaimed and award-winning photographer Gueorgui Pinkhassov explored the city in motion. His series of works is called ‘The Ride’ and he took photos of emergency medical staff visiting those who were infected with COVID, went down to the Moscow Metro to photograph those who still had to use it and took rides on buses and taxis.
“It’s been a long time since I had to work with so many restrictions - I’m already used to dictating my own rules as an art photographer,” Gueorgui laments. However, every day he felt he needed to get up, dress and go out to look around for new photo opportunities.
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