Whether it’s Navalny’s protests in Russia, or Black Lives Matter protests elsewhere, the world is united in creating a cultural shift – to build a future which is inclusive, embracing, and encompassing of differences. Culture can be used as a tool to separate people, or to unite them. Russia has long struggled to break the shackles of its Red era, and the racism and xenophobia that came with it. As swells of Russians begin to explore a new, progressive future, art is being used as a medium to express collective voices calling for radical change. From the wave of rap sweeping across the nation, to literature, poetry and visual art, Russians are slowly building cultural bridges to replace those that have been burning for a long time.
With these pictures that have been taken in her back garden, Russian photographer Alla Bogdanovic expresses her longing for back home, but also her appreciation for the progression, freedom, and cultural cohesion found in London. Model Illyana Gherbin is styled as a black ballerina and babushka. She is an empowered, graceful representation of Russian culture, contained in a subversion against the country’s rigid conservatism. She is a visualisation of the loud, echoing calls for reform in Russia, and she is a colourful caricature that portrays multiculturalism as a thing of beauty. Culture is something to be proud of, and it is even more stunning when it is shared. Each look is a contemporary twist on the traditional Russian woman look from different eras, celebrating her as an everlasting symbol of Russian culture and bringing her into the new, forward-looking world. She is strong, unapologetic, bold, and any limits placed on her, especially those of culture, are now being broken.
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