This activity landed while I was chairing a review of a Russian university in Moscow. We had a meeting with students that day, so I asked if anyone would like to help me with an assignment after the review was over. Stanislav contacted me later, so I sent him the brief and we met on Sunday afternoon. We talked for about an hour about where he lived and his life in Moscow, and planned the places we would visit and how we would work together on the task. We spent the rest of the day visiting different parts of Moscow to talk and take photographs, and then sat over a drink to review what we had and work on a structure. The next day I sent him the selected images in order with some draft text based on the interview and subsequent conversations, which he modified by return. I then put together this simple image and text presentation.
We both enjoyed the process. With limited time available, and now being in two countries (I returned to London on Monday), it’s not a deep piece of work. But I can see the potential to develop this kind of collaborative approach. I also want to think more about how to present this kind of work, and how to explore deeper and more demanding issues. I’d have been happier with an spoken commentary over the images but no time for that. And a juxtaposition of images in some way. This will help with the fieldwork I am doing with planning students at UCL Bartlett over the coming weeks.
I’m really grateful to Stanislav for his generosity and openness. I got to see parts of Moscow that otherwise I wouldn’t have explored. And, believe me, it is way more scary being told not to photograph by security guards in Russian!