Egor Rogalev: “I’m trying to catch “the movement between the moments”


Egor Rogalev.©Egor Rogalev


The environment you are photographing is familiar to you. Is it easy of difficult to make it interesting to a foreign eye?

It has become quite natural for me. I can’t say that it’s easy but I really like the process of finding something interesting and important in a routine environment. In my opinion photography is aimed for that. Yes, most of the people here find the common post-Soviet scenery uninteresting and depressive. I can agree with them at some point but still i believe it is more complicated and layered and has much more to offer than just boredom and despondency.

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 02

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 03

You took really dramatic pictures of subsisting Soviet artifacts and those mutating into icons of the new world. What is your personal relationship with past and the present of Russia?

This project is about European parts of the former Soviet Union including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Most of the pictures were shot in Ukraine. So I would prefer not to speak only about Russia. Now Ukraine is mostly running away from the Soviet past. And recent events in Kiev with demolition of Lenin’s monument show it very well. Ukraine is heading straight to Europe while Russia is desperately trying to create its own idea of identity. But the past is still there and you cannot get away from it immediately. On the other hand there’s Belarus, country with an ideology based on the cult of war that has ended long ago. And they still use these Soviet symbols in some way.

Yes, the past is contradictory and haunting but still the symbols and ideals that modern governments in Russia and Ukraine are trying to offer are weak and totally fake comparing to those created in Soviet time. And also the way these things are transformed and used in Belarus now is not convincing and somehow absurd.
It’s impossible to cut away the whole period in history especially when its so deep-rooted in the cultural landscape. What we really need to do is to find a way how to deal with the past. And I believe that photography can really help with that. Literature, architecture, decorative art, cinematography – all these things beyond ideology were really strong in the Soviet Union. And it’s sad that a lot of these traditions now are lost and rejected.                                                                                              …

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 08

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 06

Photography series “Synchronicity” is very realistic, unvarnished. How long does it takes to run a series like that? What is your method in terms of going to places and meeting people – do you make trips and rely on accidental encounters or you follow the routine of your close environment and meet people you know?

This project takes time cause I also have to do commercial assignments for living and travelling. Also it’s it is quite complicated, doesn’t have a formal visual agenda and tries to embrace quite a lot of things at once. But I prefer it that way, I don’t think it’s completely finished yet but I really love the direction it has taken.
I don’t use one strict method while working on it. Sometimes I do investigations before heading to places, sometimes I just find something interesting very occasionally. It’s the same with people. I make photographs of people I know and I also shoot strangers that I meet in the streets. Sometimes I ask people to pose, sometimes I don’t do that. In both cases I’m trying to catch “the movement between the moments” – a glimpse of time when gesture or other move is started but not finished yet. While making a sequence in this project I pay more attention to a symbolic connection rather than a logical or visual compatibility.
Actually it has started when I’ve tried to make something from few pictures made in my travels 4 years ago. These were my first attempts in professional photography. The intention and concept in that time were different but that moment has started it all and was really important for me.                                                                                                                        …                                                                                                                                                                                                 Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 10

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 07
Soviet block neighborhoods, symbolic sculptures, old cars. Can you say that this series is like a legacy for future generations?

All photographic images even occasional and non-professional are a legacy for future generations. I just want to point at the things that I consider interesting and important.  For me all these objects have symbolic value but I can imagine that with time this meaning will change or become less important. But still there’s a matter of historical evidence and this will only get stronger.

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 11

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 12

Recently there has been an abundance of great, even epic works about Russia by both, foreigners, such as Simon Roberts „Motherland Russia“ (UK), Nick Hannes „The Red Journey“ (B) or natives to Russia, like Alexander Gronski (multiple series), Eugenia Arbugaeva and numerous others. Any of those that inspired you to start the “Synchronicity”?

Of course I love these works. But there is a lot more of them! Also “7 rooms” by Rafal Milach, a series made in Ukraine by Michal Chelbin, and new epic work by Rob Hornstra. Also French photographer Claudine Doury did some great projects which have inspired me in the first place to start working on my own. It’s important to know what other people are doing with the similar subject or theme. It works both ways – you get inspiration and also invent your own style when you know what to do or not to do to avoid imitation.

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 01

Rogalev Egor - Synchronicity 05


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Posted in Interviews