Taxis cross the frozen Lena River, Yakutsk, 2008
Archival ink jet print
9 3/8 x 12 inches on 11 x 14 inch paper
Signed Edition of 50
(United Kingdom, b. 1974)
In 2005 Simon Roberts completed a year-long journey through Russia, giving rise to his photographic essay Motherland. This empathic and captivating collection of photographs, which combines intimate portraits and expansive landscapes, coalesces into a picture of post-Soviet Russia that is more complex and optimistic than clichéd portrayals of poverty in the wake of communism. Offering equal measures of beauty and disorder, pride and melancholy, the images speak to feelings of belonging and a common spirit amidst evident diversity. Coming through centrally in Motherland is the importance of place and the native landscape to the Russians. Roberts’s photograph of taxis on the frozen Lena River encapsulates the sheer enormity of the country and the austere grandeur of the land. It also embodies the sense of a nation moving into a new and unfamiliar era, even as it reflects the artist’s own journey.
Roberts earned a BA in human geography from University of Sheffield (1996) and a Distinction in Photography from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (1997). His photographs have been featured in publications such as Time, The Sunday Times Magazine, Guardian Weekend Magazine, Details, and Esquire. He has received a Getty Grant of Editorial Photography (2006), as well as awards from the Magenta Foundation in Toronto (2006) and the Royal Photographic Society in the United Kingdom (2007). In 2004 Photo District News named him one of the “PDN30 Emerging Artists,” and he was featured in The Independent on Saturday Magazine’s “Talent Issue” as one of their rising stars for 2007. Motherland was published as a book by Chris Boot Ltd. in 2006.