Christoph Grill: Short Stalks at Distant Shores
Text by Ulf Brunnbauer, Christoph Grill, Irina Tchmyreva, Ulrich Tragatschnik.
In breathtaking, wide-angle photographs, Christoph Grill (born 1965) documents the post-Perestroika development of the 15 former Soviet countries: Albania, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Emphasizing the empty space around their subjects, Grill’s color and black-and-white images are distinctly unsentimental portraits of everyday life--children playing amid the ruins of communist utopias, triumphal arches now surrounded by rubble, grass growing in the cracks of military parade grounds, ramshackle dwellings bandaged up with planks of plywood. Not all of these scenes are desolate, however, and cheerier portraits of persons encountered on Grill’s travels, improvising their fun in makeshift swimming pools or along roadsides punctuate the more sober depictions of post-Soviet life. Handsomely clothbound and printed, Short Stalks at Distant Shores records how these states not only underwent renewal but also had to endure economic standstill and regression; it also testifies to the human will to survive amid the bleakest of conditions.