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The Don Stepee

Rostov-on-Don region, Russian Federation

by Misha Maslennikov

Published January 2024

Picture yourself in the midst of the steppe, somewhere out in the open, looking at the horizon. You find your gaze drawn beyond this meeting of earth and sky, to the far side of the visible, so much that you can see nothing other than this inexorable boundary. What’s out there? What kind of life beyond imagining? Perhaps something utterly different, utterly unknown: seas and mountains, the crystalline glint of office windows in concrete canyons, elegant shop windows, the fireplaces of ski lodges? Perhaps climbing the corporate ladder with its strict dress code, or beach volleyball in stylish bikinis? But you stand there for a while in silence, just a bit longer, and all this falls away. There is only the earth under your feet, near and far, as far as the eye can see, and the sky above your head, around you and about you, and it all runs together as one, even within you, and it’s as if there is no longer an observer.

Misha Maslennikov

Misha Maslennikov was born in 1964 in the Dobroe settlement near Moscow. He has been head of the Noga Creative Union since 2006, and a member of the Russian Photo Union and Russian Geography Society since 2010. In 2020, he became an independent photographer with the Incubator Photo Gallery in Portugal. He currently lives in Odesa, Ukraine with his wife and pets.

In 2002 he began traveling in the Russian north including expeditions to places difficult of access, visiting and photographing monasteries, keepers of ancient temples, medieval administrative districts in Russia, studying the way of life of modern hermits, and developing relationships with backwoodsmen of Russia.

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