The urban alienation of Moscow’s harsh winters

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On the one hand, Catalan photographer Salvi Danés’ series Black Ice, Moscow depicts daily life in the Russian capital; on the other, it addresses more universal fears about personal alienation and isolation.

The 31 year old, who was born in Barcelona and has lived in the city all his life, decided to turn his attention to Moscow after completing a project in Tokyo. “It was the winter of 2011-12 and my intention was to face another urban reality, to find common elements along the same lines as the previous project,” he says.

“My first project focused on the alienating urban dynamics of Tokyo – a modern, highly connected society with new technologies and an economic and social situation admired by many nations. I wanted to transport this concept to a city with different traditions.”

Danés spent almost a month photographing in Moscow, looking for busy places where he could stop and observe without being noticed. He talks of the city as being “full of companions but empty of partners”, and in most of the images, people are pictured alone. Many have startled expressions, their faces lit up by the flashgun he uses to add directional light.

“My intention is to isolate the character among the darkness, and directing the light can emphasise this feeling of personal isolation,” he says. “Photography is tied to an eagerness to discover a new world through the lens, which is sometimes close to the real vision but can be closer to an imaginary, personal world. My aim is to continue working on the same concept but in different cities, exploring alienation and urban dynamics in general, rather than in a particular city.”

Find more of Salvi’s work here.

First published in the March 2014 issue. You can buy the issue here.