Title of publication: Russian Interiors
Author: Andy Rocchelli
Editor: CESURA Publish
Year of publication: 2014
Edition size: 700 copies
Binding: Wallpaper handmade hardcover with screen printed title, foldable pages
Book size: 155 x 215 mm
Number of pages: 125 pages, 70 photos
Price: 40 €
I wanted to wait for the right moment to write about Russian Interiors, the posthumous work by Andy Rocchelli, the Italian photojournalist sadly known to have fallen in Ukraine, not as a soldier, but as a journalist.
In recent days, the World Press Photo awarded 2nd prize stories in the Portrait category to this work that, in the meantime, has become a book through a crowdfunding operation conducted by CESURA, the photo collective of which Andy was founder and member.
Russian Interiors is an honest body of work, the kind of work that stands on the border between different worlds. At first glance it has a reminiscent taste of fashion photography, taste you do not expect from a photojournalist. Then you realize that with this work, the photographer from Pavia was earning the money to live and continue his much wider work, started in 2010 as a freelance photographer.
In Eastern Europe marriage by correspondence is still very common. Many women rely on various agencies that promise them to find a husband who can give them a life of dignity and security. Andy shot many images that would produce these Postalmarket style catalogs and, to beat the local photographers' fierce competition, he offered to work at reduced rates, shooting portraits in the homes of the future brides.
The focus of the whole work lies in this: ordinary women, often hopeless, portrayed in their extremely Soviet homes, with a kitsch taste that often accompanies expressions and poses more or less static, more or less plastic. Fashion photography, precisely. But sincere.
Andy takes several photographs, on one side the official ones, the ones with which he pays a living. On the other, lots of backstage shots, stolen moments, movements, domestic and homely details. Everything always topped off by this primal sincerity that shines through flicking and opening - in the true sense of the word - the book's pages.
I also truly appreciated the decision to bind the cover of the book with wallpaper, which frequently serves as the background to various portraits.
In the end, what remains are extremely private stories, surrounded by a great sense of loneliness. A slice of a parallel world, not too far away and too well known.