Vlad was standing with his girlfriend outside a metro station in northwestern Moscow. Vlad said he bought the shirt because he likes the Brooklyn Nets, which is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Vlad is a fire-fighting specialist for the Russian Emergency Ministry, which probably explains his big physique.
It's the equivalent of hitting two home runs in a game - finding two friends that are both wearing NYC-themed clothing. This wasn't the only time. I first saw the guy on the right in the metro with the Bronx hat, the first time I came across that borough here. I only noticed his friend was wearing a Manhaatan shirt once I got ready to take their photo.
Zhenya, a dancer and DJ from Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia, was visiting a tattoo convention in Moscow when I saw him. He had just gotten a tattoo on his upper left arm. Zhenya said he bought his Brooklyn bikers cap in NYC last year during a work trip.
A portrait of the young girl from the Russian Arctic peninsula of Yamal sporting her "I ❤️NY" winter hat.
These girls are Khanti, one of the native Siberian ethnic groups, and they live on Yamal peninsula, a slither of Russia on the Arctic circle that is the gas equivalent of Saudi Arabia. These girls were attending a local annual festival and were dressed in ethnic clothing...except for their hats. The one on the left is wearing a winter cap with the words: "I ❤️ NY."
I am kicking off my Russia photo project with the oldest person I found wearing NYC-labeled clothing. I was walking through the beat-up outdoor market in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, a Russian region that borders the Caspian Sea, when I saw these gentlemen. The guy on the left was wearing a baseball cap with Brooklyn written on it and I stopped to chat with him and his friend. He said he was a mechanical engineer and had traveled around the former Soviet Union on various projects. He said he was was approaching 80yo, while his friend, seated next to him, was past 80. The seated man on the right said he ran a kiosk at the market, but that times were tough. "There are no jobs, no wages, no factories. All the young people are leaving for Moscow or other cities." Kalmykia, a Buddhist region with Mongol roots, lies in the steppe, making it suitable for livestock breeding but not for manufactoring, ect, explaining in part why many leave seeking employment elsewhere. The 80yo guy on the right is holding what appears to be a man-bag, which had been popular in Russia some years back.
One August summer evening last year, I walked 30 minutes from my Moscow office, through Red Square, to my apartment. During that stroll, I saw 4 people wearing shirts with the world Brooklyn, my home town. Thereafter, I paid a bit more attention to what people in Russia were wearing and was surprised how many people wear something with NYC/Brooklyn theme. I took a series of 50+ photos of random people around Russia with such NYC-labeled clothing over the past few monghs....not to prove that Russians like NYC (though many do)....Rather, I saw it as a way to tell stories about Russia - which many friends in NYC don't know well - through everyday people connected only by the NYC-themed clothing. There is no political angle to this series. I managed to get people in six different Russian cities, from north to south to east, from 15yo to 80yo. I will post about a dozen or so of my favourites ones from the series and hope to continue the project over the coming months. It's a great way to connect with complete strangers in this fascinating country.
Here is another photo in the short series of people wearing USA flag shirts in Moscow. Vadim, who grew up in Tatarstan, said he was studying music in Moscow and was forming a band with his friend. He said his grandfather was a photographer after the war in their small town in Tatarstan and left behind not only cameras, but lots of photos as well. I bet there is a good exhibition to be had about life in a simple soviet town if someone takes the time to go through them.
Moscow Portrait: One popular Russian film goes by the title "Irony of Fate," something that could be applied to Sasha's life. Born in Perm in the Urals, he said he served nine years in part for anti-communist actions. Now he makes a living portraying the man who personifies of Russian communism: Lenin.
Pasha doesn't need to worry about problems with his USA-themed shirt in Moscow. The Yakutia native is a wrestler.