Project

By the Lake: People on the Border Between Russia and Estonia Longing for the Past

Tallinn-based photographer Birgit Püve photographed the people who live at the border between Estonia and Russia, longing for the times when both shores of Lake Peipus belonged to one state.
Birgit Püve Age 39

Photographer from Tallinn, Estonia. Studied Social Sciences at the University of Tartu. Before becoming a freelance photographer, worked as a photo editor. Had solo exhibitions in Russia, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain. Published her work in The Washington Post, The Guardian, TIME Lightbox, Monocle, Der Spiegel, and many other media outlets.

— When the Soviet Union collapsed, the borderland of Estonia and Russia was left alone until it turned into a periphery. The big Lake Peipus separates two shores that are now politically different worlds: one, part of the European Union, the other belongs to the Russian Federation. The closing of the borders cut off the strong ties between the people of the two sides, who defined themselves by the lake, not by their nationality. All this deepened its status as a borderland.

Now, mostly old people are sleeping alone in their beds in front of old icons in the middle of luscious wallpapers, patterns that remind them of a beautiful past. The children leave.

My aim is to show the silence and dignity of the people of a culturally unique and rich part of the European Union, on forgotten shores, the vanishing land.

Old people are sleeping alone in their beds in front of old icons in the middle of luscious wallpapers, patterns that remind them of a beautiful past.

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