Project

Peacetime: Militarization in Alexander Astafiev’s Photo Project

St. Petersburg photographer Alexander Astafiev has been documenting militarization in everyday life for several years.


Alexander Astafiev, 37

Teaches photography, graduated from the Galperin Department of Photo Reporters courses (St. Petersburg). Since 2001 has worked for Helsingin Sanomat, Lenta.ru, The New Times, Time Out, Afisha, Novaya Gazeta, The Russian Reporter.


“…and no one has guessed”
A. Vertinsky


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_01.jpg”, “text”: ” St. Petersburg. Visual campaigning at the military enlistment office. October 2010 [It is a real man’s job – to protect his Motherland, his family, the woman he loves… V. Putin]”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_02.jpg”, “text”: “Kurianovo village. Youth military patriotic club. September 2012.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_03.jpg”, “text”: “Goretovo village. Children’s animation. December 2012.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_04.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_05.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Drill Training Contest. December 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_06.jpg”, “text”: “Mozhaysk. Labour Day. May 2011.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_07.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_08.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Youth club. Conscript Day. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_09.jpg”, “text”: “Kolomna. July 2014.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_10.jpg”, “text”: “Kolomna. City beach. July 2014.”}



“Oh, the cannon fodder is here,” the officer at the district enlistment office joked when we, unshorn potential new conscripts, disturbed his comfortable life with our appearance. It was a long time ago, in mid-90s, I was 16 at the time. I even got upset that I was assigned to be an uncool wireman, while some of my classmates got to be in the airborne forces.

Before that when I was a child in the 80s, I used to run around in a black beret with a star and a wooden gun pretending to be a marine. “Bang-bang, you’re dead!” I screamed or tragically fell down on the ground shot by the enemy’s bullet, rolling down from the high ground that we’d just taken over. I was excited to watch every military parade on the Red Square broadcasted live. I loved cammies and weapons – I thought military uniforms were wonderful and those who were wearing them were the most honest people to me.

All of this was before.
The way I see things has somewhat changed since then.
Minor bureaucratic rudeness opens your eyes to the things you had taken for granted.


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_11.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_12.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Youth club. Conscript Day. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_13.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Drill Training Contest. December 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_14.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Medical examination at the enlistment office. October 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_15.jpg”, “text”: “Lukhovitsy. City administration building. April 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_16.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Youth club. Conscript Day. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_17.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Enlistment office. Fingerprinting of the conscripts before dispatch to the military unit. October 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_18.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Youth club. Conscript Day. Competition on speed of assembling and disassembling the SMG. November 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_19.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Drill Training Contest. December 2010.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_20.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A teaching poster. October 2010.”}


I started this series long before the “little green men”. The teenagers depicted in the series will have grown up by now and it is possible they are in the army, marching, shooting in the shooting range, or shooting human targets with combat guns while “on leave.” It’s possible some of them are done with shooting for good and are lying in freshly dug graves with no nameplates on them, as their death is a “secret” – and their relatives struggle to believe their own words that they utter to the annoying and redundant journalists.”
(Editor’s note: The “little green men” is a colloquial term used to denote regular Russian army soldiers who wear no insignia on their green uniforms. The term first emerged during 2014 Crimean crisis in Ukraine when Russia annexed Crimea. The “little green men” were spotted in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Ukraine. However, Russia officially denies the involvement of its regular army in Ukrainian crisis. Whenever proof of the presence of Russian army soldiers is found, their command claims that it did not dispatch them to the Ukrainian territory, that they were “on leave” and came to Ukraine voluntarily as private individuals in their free time. For the reason of disguising Russian presence the deceased soldiers are buried in nameless graves, and their relatives are pressured by Russian authorities to lie to journalists.)

There is hope though that at least some of these teenagers will look around with the eyes that have been opened with someone’s help.


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_21.jpg”, “text”: “Stupino. Central street. August 2011.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_22.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_23.jpg”, “text”: “Kolomna. City beach. July 2014.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_24.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_25.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_26.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Drill Training Contest. December 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_27.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_28.jpg”, “text”: “Kurianovo village. Youth military patriotic club. A teaching poster. September 2012.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_29.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_30.jpg”, “text”: “Lotoshino. A boy playing war. March 2013.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_31.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Shooting range. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_32.jpg”, “text”: “Kolomna. City cemetery. April 2012.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_33.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Congratulatory speeches for the conscripts before dispatching them to the military units. October 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_34.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Youth club. Conscript Day. November 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_35.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. The display with the examples of uniforms. October 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_36.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. Formation on the drill ground before dispatch to the military units. October 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_37.jpg”, “text”: “St. Petersburg. A school. Drill Training Contest. December 2010.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_38.jpg”, “text”: “Strunino village. August 2013.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_39.jpg”, “text”: “Country road near Dubna. A walk in the nature. September 2012.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_40.jpg”, “text”: “Mozhaysk. A Railway platform. A child’s drawing. Pavement, chalk, spits, cigarette butts, chewing gum.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_41.jpg”, “text”: “Ozery. A city wall with WWII-themed graffiti.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_42.jpg”, “text”: “Turkmen settlement. Private garage.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_43.jpg”, “text”: “Mozhaysk. Labour Day. May 2011.”}


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Military_Astafiev_Alexandre_44.jpg”, “text”: “Goretovo village. A fragment of a toy sword. May 2011.”}

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