Disparity And Humanity in A Land Far Away

An Ambiguous Journey Through the Beauty, Benevolence and the In-between of Russia

Treading the line between poignant realism and humorous fantasy, Frank Herfort’s project Time In Between – Fairy Tale of Russia is a mesmerizing, thought-provoking and at times chilling collection of photographs from his journey through Russia. Surreal imagery, colours and scenes lead on to candid shots of post-soviet aesthetic in an honest and strikingly human sequence of photos.

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Like stills from a Wes Anderson movie, the composition of each image encapsulates a disparity between lingering hope and aesthetic desolation, between the human subject and their surroundings. Frank comments how in Russia, ‘everything is open to interpretation’ and this collection leaves you with more questions than it answers. Time In Between is just that: an interval in time that never shows us quite enough to determine how we feel about what we are looking at but nevertheless, we can’t stop looking.

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Here is what Frank had to say about Russia, photography and the concept of waiting:

“The whole world is frozen in a condition of waiting. The people in these photos seem to be totally absorbed in a deep, paralyzing, enchanted slumber. And we have the uncanny sneaking feeling that this time there is no prince on his way to kiss them awake again. “This moment of life here could go on for ever” remarks Frank Herfort, who photographed his project “Time In Between” in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places in Russia. The images make a surreal, absurd impression; they raise more questions than they answer. “

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The storyline, these absurd constellations, develops out of the relationship between the people in the photos and the space around them,” comments the Leipzig born photographer, project. The seminal idea for it came to him during a stay in Russia some years ago, at a time when he was beginning to develop an interest in the aesthetic aspect of public spaces. “In Western Europe everything is so neatly defined, so specific. A waiting room is a waiting room, an office is an office. In Russia, in contrast, rooms are open to interpretation, many-layered and not so prettified. And I also noticed that there seem to be many more people just sitting around in them. None of them seems at first sight to know what they are doing there. I tried to integrate people like that into my pictures.” For this, Herfort chose subtle settings with people whom he met at the scene and asked whether they would be willing to let him photograph them in the poses he wanted. Thus, in “time in between” what we see are not classic portraits and individual emotional states.

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Herfort makes intuitive use of the often melancholy atmosphere of a location, influenced by building materials such as marble and dark woods, in order to give emotional states and themes such as isolation and stagnation visible expression. He finds the Russian soul mirrored (in a double sense) in these images of the Russian urban population, just as the artist-princes such as Repin or Surikov once did – and finds himself quoting the tradition of the painters almost by accident.

Budushee - Zukunft , ein Dorf zwischen Moskau und St. Petersburg im Winter

He arrived in his own car with lighting equipment, a medium and a large-format camera in his luggage to capture these temporally undated images. The ”time in between” in these pictures is nothing more than a distant dream of another time, far, far away.”

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Budushee - Zukunft , ein Dorf zwischen Moskau und St. Petersburg im Winter
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