Journey through Russian Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll’s Alice just had to step through the mirror to get to the world of the Looking-Glass. To become an equal participant of Russia’s new utopia – XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi – one had to purchase a Spectator pass.
Spectator pass series is the culmination of four-year work on capturing and studying the changes which took place in Sochi and its surroundings when once a Soviet health resort was turned into the capital of another XXI century Olympics. The main focus is on people. The people who “drew the lucky ticket” and perhaps experienced the most important event of their lives. These people found themselves in so-called Olympic Looking-Glass, modern isolated city built with innovative technologies taken into account which looks a little bit awkward against the Caucasus Mountains landscape.
Spectator pass, special Olympic document, enabled its holder to attend sport events, to move around the city in special Olympic transport and to visit recreation and entertainment areas.
Has the new ideology been recently created in Russia and is it the newly transformed Olympic Sochi that was supposed to become its symbol? As with Carroll’s’ Looking-Glass, we haven’t found any clearly defined mythes of the new Russian statehood. The camera captured the easily recognizable mix of dissimilar Russian realities adopted by Russians either from their Soviet past or from the screens of modern TV sets. A notorious Russian tricolor flag was perhaps the only unifying factor – along with Soviet symbols and pseudo-Russian skewed-collared national shirts one could spot glamorous coloured branded sportswear; horned helmets of Western football fans somehow coexisted with the Russian Airborne Troop coloures. And the apogee of all of this was a man wearing a stylized uniform of the Soviet national hockey team with a famous shapka-ushanka, trooper hat with earflaps. All this can inevitably evoke a smile. But is it stupid? Weird? Ridiculous? Of course, not! This is just a vivid proof that modern Russia is still as far from the West as it is from the East and that it still goes by its unique way through its another Looking-Glass.
© Bleek Magazine. Text: Sergey Chebatkov. All Images: Julia Abzaltdinova.