“As a child I already felt a strong affinity with Soviet culture, because of the history and place I lived in” writes photographer Frank Herfort, who was born in Leipzig, East Germany, in what was then the German Democratic Republic (GDR). “As a young kid with 8 or 9 years or so, I already dreamt of Moscow”, he continues, “don’t ask me why, there was something magnetic about the city’s atmosphere”. Some dreams come true—Frank now resides between Moscow and Berlin.
Since moving to Moscow, the artist has been seeking strange moments that allude to modern day fairytales in his aptly named project Russian Fairy Tales. ‘Seeking’ is perhaps not the right word, as often the most interesting scenes appeared to him “miraculously”. Portrayed are scenes of everyday life, far removed from the political situation with which viewers often associate the country. There are no witches, dragons or sleeping princesses; instead the images introduce the viewer to a faraway place where imagination still leaves room for magical possibilities.
The photographer has been working on this project for the past 10 years. The images in this series were captured primarily in and around Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in more remote eastern regions including Siberia and Altai. Most photograph were taken using a tripod, asking the people he met to hold a posture or repeat a movement which caught his eye. For a single image, he can require up to an hour.
Despite considering himself a storyteller, Frank describes himself as a “bad reader”. He instead turns to visuals and the observation of real life. In an increasingly visual world, seeing usually comes before words.
A limited selection of signed prints from Frank Herfort’s series are available on his website.
All images © Frank Herfort