St. Petersburg-based photographer Ekaterina Vasilyeva reports that in the past twenty years, 25,000 Russian villages have disappeared, and that number again is on the verge of being lost today. One of those villages is Andrushino, a tiny town in the Russian region of Pskov, the area where her grandparents grew up. Vasilyeva spent five years shooting her series “After the Firebird” there, exploring the sharp, dreamy shape of life in the town and its connections the world of fairy tales and folklore. In her images, characters from old stories about talking bears and wish-granting fish are hinted at by a picture of a bearskin rug with a ferocious open mouth or a red tub of gold-flecked fish. In Andrushino, she writes in a statement, “I have been subconsciously looking for overt or covert manifestations of people’s magic. I think that it is as much a part of our being as history and geography. Faced with a fabulous world of folklore you soon realize that..all the beliefs and superstitions, charms and rituals, tales and fables are…an immediate response of the collective soul to the mysterious currents of the natural elements.” The Firebird in Vasilyeva’s title, from Slavic mythology, is accused in some stories of stealing the King’s golden apples. In an image of apples rotting in the grass—and in others that depict decline—Vasilyeva uses real markers from nature to show the fading romance of this invisible world.
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