The Russia Left Behind: A journey through a heartland on the slow road to ruin
My interest in the St. Petersburg-to-Moscow journey dated back to my school days, when I was given a reading assignment – a 1790 book by a liberal-minded bureaucrat Aleksandr Radishchev. His description of the towns between St. Petersburg and Moscow was a savage critique of the injustices of Czarist Russia.
I decided to undertake the journey myself in part to capture the vast differences between Russia’s cities and its hinterlands. Life between these two cities and along this road is very rudimentary. This social disparity is common to Russia, thus this road is like a microcosm of our nation.
Through this work, I wanted to show what happens in these places every day. People living in such remote places think their reality is the norm, but it is not. These photographs show the slow decay of Russia’s still-heart and the everyday realities of its forgotten inhabitants.
About the Artist
Dmitry Kostyukov [Russia, b.1983] has covered current events and in-depth stories in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia, including the conflict in South Ossetia in 2008 and the war in Afghanistan.
Prior to going freelance in 2011, he worked as a staff photographer at Kommersant daily newspaper (2005-2007) and at Agence France-Presse (2008-2011). He was awarded the second place in the portrait series at NPPA 2014, was a finalist at the Sony awards (2011) and a winner at NPPA: The best of photojournalism (2010).
Kostyukov studied journalism at the Moscow State University, where he now lectures at. Following his repeated coverage of the Russian space programme, he collaborated with artist Zina Surova and produced ‘Kosmos’, a 2012 children’s book of photographs and illustrations about space exploration.
Kostyukov is a regular contributor to The New York Times, TIME magazine, Financial Times, Liberation, and Russian Reporter among others. He is based in Paris.