Where fantasy and reality overlap: Igor Samolet’s photographs of endless youth and everlasting summers

After weeks and weeks without any spark of inspiration, art strikes again and lights a fire!
Discovering Igor Samolet’s work brought me to this happy turn and so I have to give some love to him.

His work has everything it needs to be a great piece of art, especially when it comes to terms of photography as art. It deals with something that is real and the next moment it turns reality into a magic place, it reveals beauty and terror equally and at the same time, it is humorous, sentimental, merciless, ambiguous, historically charged and timeless.

There are just two series on his website but both are artistically mature and stunning. be happy! is about a bunch of outlaw-youngsters in a small town in north Russia. It is the result of a long term commitment from the author to his subjects and it shows that one thing almost every photographer is in love with: reckless youth, sex, drugs, violence, the living-in-the-moment. So far, so good. But seeing quite a lot of gay couples making out gives the whole story a certain twist, and this is not due to voyeurism but more to the fact of the highly homophobic atmosphere in today’s Russia.

The second series Herbarium (see a selection from it below) is about his family’s summer house, called dacha, somewhere at the country side. As Igor explains it in the accomplished text, the dachas are part of the Soviet legacy and almost every Russian family calls one their own. This is the place where  families meet during summer, where they grow vegetables and fruits, and where life was (and still is) private. In his way of mixing found footage material of old family pictures with atmospheric stills and staged situations, he succeeds in building up a world of its own which recalls childhood feelings. The memories of everlasting summers, when naughty games went on for days and days and when fantasy and reality overlaps.

And as we wait for this year’s summer, we should shorten the time by drifting away while looking at Igor’s pictures.

See his website here.

All following pictures are copyrighted by the artist.

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