document EAST is 2 years old!

(c) Ioana Cirlig & Marin Raica, Marta Berens, Vitaly Fomenko, Rena Effendi, Maxim Dondyuk (from top left corner)

(c) Ioana Cirlig & Marin Raica, Marta Berens, Vitaly Fomenko for Everyday Eastern Europe, Rena Effendi, Maxim Dondyuk (from top left corner)

document EAST is 2 years old!

Two years ago on a rainy and foggy October day I set up document EAST. It started off as a virtual notebook for sharing some of my favourite documentary projects from Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, the region that’s closest to my heart, given that I’m an Eastern European myself. Two years, over thirty featured photographers, hundreds of inspiring images, and thousands of followers from around the globe later, I am proud and honoured to keep bringing you the best of documentary photography produced in and focusing on the countries, territories, and communities of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union.

Top 5 Features

Birthdays and anniversaries are always a great excuse for reconsidering the past. Thus, on this special occasion I prepared TOP 5 document EAST Features Ever!

1. ‘Post-Industrial Stories’ (2012 – present) by Ioana Cirlig and Marin Raica

Like the American photographer Dorothea Lange back in the 1930s, Ioana Cirlig and Marin Raica take us on a road-trip across post-industrial Romania. The couple travels across the country, documenting the effects of communist industrialisation and more recent transition to a market economy (that brought a de-industrialisation) on local communities and natural landscape. The project started in 2012, when Ioana and Marin decided to travel across their homeland and live in every single town they photograph for at least few months in order to integrate into local communities and see as much as possible. (by Ioana Cirlig & Marin Raica)

2. ‘Suiti’ (2014 – present) by Marta Berens

A story of the Suiti people – a small Catholic community inhabiting the largely Protestant western part of Latvia, whose history dates back to 1623, when a local land owner Johan Ulrich von Schwerin decided to convert to Catholicism to be able to marry a Polish aristocrat Barbara Konarska. Today, the Suiti community counts just over 2,000 members and their customs and traditions are so unique that they have recently been added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. (by Marta Berens)

3. ‘New Eastern Europe: Stories Behind the Headlines’ – document EAST & Everyday Eastern Europe

An exciting collaboration between document EAST and Everyday Eastern Europe – a collective mobile phone photography project documenting daily life in the region. To inaugurate our Instagram account back in the summer 2015, we teamed up with Everyday Eastern Europe’s founder Tina Remiz to curate a selection of images from the project’s archive and show you Eastern Europe you might have not seen before. (by Everyday Eastern Europe photographers)

4. ‘Chernobyl: Still Life in the Zone’ (2010) by Rena Effendi 

The series shows everyday lives of very few people still living in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Differently from at least a dozen of photographers who have documented Chernobyl in the past, Rena Effendi decided to seek out ‘life in the zone’ instead of producing an eerie memento mori. The photographer documented the harsh and often lonely lives of Chernobyl babushkas, creating empowering portraits of these elderly ladies as well as painterly still lives of simple, household objects. (by Rena Effendi)

5. ‘Uman, Rosh Hashanah’ (2008 – 2012) by Maxim Dondyuk

A compelling documentary project about a massive annual Jewish pilgrimage to a small Ukrainian town of Uman. Every year over 20,000 of pilgrims from around the globe flock to Uman to visit the grave of rabbi Nahman from Breslav († 1810), the founder of Hasidism, and to celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah. (by Maxim Dondyuk)

What’s next…

Birthdays are, however, not just about the past but also – if not more so – about the future! I’m slowly (but surely) working on a new website and new, updated looks of document EAST; I’ll soon be launching a new Instagram project (watch this space!); and – as always – will keep cherry-picking more and more inspiring documentary photography projects from Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the time spent with document EAST so far and – just like me – are looking forward to what’s next 🙂

document EAST founder and editor

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