Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ARTIST: The Process from Mari Bastashevski (

My projects are set in regions where well-intentioned political mandates lead to corruption and abuses of power. The objective is to understand the ultra vires acts, as well as the use of information control mechanisms, and how said mechanisms facilitate the unaccountability of government officials.

In an attempt to engage the conventions of traditional conflict reporting, I choose to oppose the scenographic habits in photojournalism by giving equal weight to text and image. The established convention is to combine these languages; on one hand, the image is used as an illustration of text; on the other, the text explains the image in an attempt to confirm it as reality. The intention is to use these mediums separately; so that the image is treated as 'an object' open to interpretation - a trigger for hypotheses; and the text as a separate stream of information: finite and transmitable through precise repetition.


In The Caucasus

File 126.The Topography of Abductions in The North Caucasus
On the 9th of December, 2001, three armed men in military uniforms and masks stormed the bedroom of newlyweds Zarema and Mohammed Edilov. They pulled Mohammed out of bed and handcuffed him. Shouting and cursing, the men dragged Mohammed out of the house and threw him into an APC. They also assaulted Zarema, who tried to block the front door. On the following morning, Zarema discovered that other residents of Valerick - Ali Vadilov, Ahambi Isaev and Rizvan Suleimanov - were also abducted during the operation. Zarema made numerous attempts to have the abductions investigated, but the case was repeatedly closed due to a lack of evidence and identifiable suspects. The whereabouts of Mohammed Edilov, Ali Valilov, Ahambi Isaev and Rizvan Suleimanov remain unknown.

In May 2009, a suicide strike on MVD Grozny in Chechnya left a toll of four dead and twenty four wounded. The authorities instantly blamed Beslan Tchagiev and the terrorist cluster of Dokku Umarov for the attack. 24 hours later, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) issued a press statement explaining in summary how and where the security forces ferreted out and liquidated four future suicide bombers connected with the attack. The photographs in this series were taken in the precise locations listed in the reports as the “theater of operations”, and were taken immediately after the MVD press release went online.

Zatchistki Weekend
The Russian North Caucasus tourism cluster project won prestigious MIPIM Asia Awards competition in 2011 in the category ‘Best Project of the future of Central and Western Asia. This award is important not only for the ‘Northern Caucasus Resorts’ company. This is a serious, significant victory of Russia. We have proved that they are able to realize an innovative, modern, forward-looking project.
-Director General of JSC ‘Northern Caucasus Resorts’ Alexei Nevsky.

Yuny Specnazovec (YS) is the first Russian-sponsored youth military sport camp in Chechnya, an enclave in the North Caucasus recovering from two wars against Russia. While majority of children enrolled in YS have previous criminal records, YS is not considered a punishment facility. Participation is voluntary and parents can choose to withdraw minors from the program at any time. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was in charge of preliminary selection, says it experienced no difficulty filling the camp with volunteers. The key attractiveness of the program for the parents is that it is marketed as an opportunity for the participants to expunge their criminal records as well as to secure a future in the security forces, be it of Chechnya, or Russia.


On and Off the Walls: Mari Bastashevski’s “File 126 (Disappearing in the Caucasus)” Posted by Whitney Johnson

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