© David Monteleone, Daghestan, Russia, 2009. Ghimri, during a bull sacrifice
© David Monteleone, Republic of Ingushetia, 2010. Nazran, during a wedding
© David Monteleone, Republic of Chechnya, 2010. Old portrait of Sheik Mansur and Sheik Artzanov
“At first there was the Russian Empire, Saint Petersburg’s splendour, nobles’ dynasties set against commons far and distant, scattered on an unlimited country. Later on came communism’s turn, with its pyramidal hierarchy, its ideology imposed without any discussion for a “superior common good” that revealed itself utopian and elusive. Walls and curtains finally fell down, but renewal’s winds were broken off by the chill of something more indefinite and creeping. Something nobody talks about, but nobody can dispute. A dictatorship replaced by another, worst.
Therefore time passed over counts and masters, hierarchs and politicians, arms of the law and armed arms. And all the past reflects itself in people’s eyes. A population that becomes silent and fierce, strong and proud, persons for whom an endearment never last long, family’s ceremonial is reduced to the least, men and women live suspended in a time space different from that one of the rest of the world. Places where blood has flown too much, where too often it is forbidden to mourn one’s own dead, where screams become mute, and hiding turned into habit. Caucasus’ regions.
The Caucasus is a concentrate of stereotypes as well as surprises. For centuries it has been land of political, religious, military and expansionistic rivalry, cruel struggle between opposing States and also between allied states. Ever since the beginning of the 19th century this region has been part of the tsarist Russian Empire, later absorbed by the Soviet Bloc.
The 1991 radical transformations involving the entire Warsaw Pact coalition, and the storm caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, got new and ancient disputes resurfaced, and in some cases worsen, and revived political and economic aims of supremacy in the area.
This project takes into account the countries in which disputes and struggles are not over yet or only apparently seem concluded, as intermittent fires under the political rhetoric of “normalization” and “pacification”. I began to investigate the daily life of people living in the Northern Caucasus, who are still divided between the claim for independence and the pride for their diversity, economic subordination, the historical-political and mental affiliation, condemned to an eternal geographic position in an oblivion, the elaboration of a new post-soviet identity.”
More of his work here