CHAPTER I - TRANSNISTRIA

Kickany monastery, near to Tiraspol. 

FIRST STEPS IN TRANSNISTRIA

My first trip to Transnistria lasted two weeks, between April and May of 2018. After intensive investigation, searching for information available online and quite frustrating attempts to get some contacts, I decided just to go. I went to "take the pulse", confront reality with everything I've read, try to talk to people to confirm / discard lines of work that I had established.

My first confrontation was at the linguistic level. I knew that Russian was omnipresent but the truth is that I expected that it would be easier to communicate in other languages. It turned out that no. A couple of weeks before traveling I imposed myself a rigorous self-study of Russian at home. If afterwards I was able to handle some basic conversations, it was thanks to this learning and to the similarity between Russian and Polish, my mother tongue. But above all I was able to communicate thanks to the great patience and openness that the inhabitants showed me.

In my projects so far I have never worked with a fixer (I have always moved to places where at least one of the 4 languages I speak was used). I value the direct contact, without any intermediary or translator, because this way I can establish a closer and intimate relationship with the person I want to portray. In Transnistria I felt even more strongly the importance of direct communication. And once again I thought that language, instead of dividing, should serve as a powerful tool to communicate with others.

Now it's time to prepare the second trip.

(July 2018)

Sergei Nikolaievich, a veteran of World War II, at his home, Tiraspol.
THE SECOND TRIP 

My second trip was longer and prepared carefully. I decided to stay in Trasnistria for about a month, with a fairly closed production plan. I already knew what I was looking for, what I wanted to investigate more, what kind of subjects interested me. I had my list prepared and was looking for more information. 

It was tremendous, at the time level, of work intensity and energy. I was alone and at the same time I had to find out how to contact associations and find the kind of people that interested me; conduct interviews (and everything in Russian!), take photos ... and according to my list I had to cover the subject from different angels. There was little time to think and without careful previous preparation it would be impossible to make such a complete report in such a short time.

On this trip, one thing also caught my attention. By the second time, I had the same reaction when entering and leaving Transnistria. As it is not a recognized country, there is no international airport and you have to pass through the airport of Chisinau (the capital of Moldova).

Moldova itself, is considered to be the poorest country in Europe, and when you arrive in Chisinau you notice it. But when I was leaving Transnistria, after almost a month's stay in Tiraspol, and went to Chisinau to catch my plane, the Moldovan capital seemed large, rich and modern to me.

I thought of a question asked by Nastia, one of the young women I met in Tiraspol: "What do we still need so that people like you, want to come and live here?". At the time, with all the fatigue I had on me, I wanted simply to say "everything", but I found a more diplomatic way to respond. Now, with even more strength, I realized how much they have left to build. The question is, how to do it without having international recognition?

(October 2018)
International Photography Grant - Nominee

While still in Transnistria I found out that the project has been selected as a nominee of the Third Edition of Photography Grant, in the Daily Life category (London). I’m thrilled and it of course gives me more energy to continue.

Here you can have a look: International Photography Grant

(October 2018)
BACK HOME 

Now starts the difficult process of edition. I always think I could have done better… In each project I try to look for what is missing and draw conclusions from that for the future. Here, I could cover most of the subjects I had on my list but it does not mean I think I did and finished all. There is always this feeling of not having enough time to enter deep in the subject, to really know the situation I try to portray. We always have to run, and there is always so much left to discover…

(November 2018) 
PUBLICATION - Equal Times (Belgium)

"Equal Times" - an online newspaper in Belgium publishes the reportage about Transnistria

Here you have an english version: READ ARTICLE

(11.01.2019)
PUBLICATION - XL Semanal (Spain)

XL Semanal - a weekly magazine in Spain, publishes photo essay about Transnistria. 

Here you have Spanish version: READ ARTICLE

(13.01.2019)
PUBLICATION - Magazine 5W (Spain)

5W - a weekly magazine in Spain, publishes photo essay about Transnistria. 

Here you have Spanish version: READ ARTICLE

(21.03.2019)
PUBLICATION - Magazine Polityka (Poland)

POLITYKA - a weekly magazine in Poland publishes photo essay about Transnistria. 

Here you have Polish version: READ ARTICLE

(10.04.2019)
GRAND PRESS PHOTO POLAND 2019

One of the photograph from “Transnistria” project has been shortlisted in the Portrait category of the biggest Polish Photojournalist Contest - Grand Press Photo Poland 2019  

More about the contest: Grand Press Photo


"OFF THE MAP" - EXHIBITION IN MADRID

The first color tests done, I advance the opening date: September 27 in International School of Photography and Cinema (EFTI) in Madrid.
"OFF THE MAP" - EXHIBITION IN MADRID

Here it goes - the first exhibition of the project takes place at the EFTI - International Center of Photography and Cinema in Madrid. 
From 27.09 till 20.10.2019

Here you will find more information (in Spanish): ​EFTI​​​

production: EFTI and Can Basté
"OFF THE MAP" exhibition portrayed by TVE5 Spanish Television. 
"OFF THE MAP" portrayed by Canal24, Spanish TV

I had a pleasure to speak about my exhibition in "La hora de cultura" (The hour of culture) Program at the Canal24 (Spanish TV) 
"OFF THE MAP"portrayed by "La aventura de saber" TV2, Spain

And here, talking about the project in "La aventura de saber" (The knowledge adventure) program at the TV2 Spanish television. 

Between East & West: Post-Soviet World

Between East & West is a multimedia documentary project about how post-soviet regions.
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