Ones To Watch, Projects

Ones to Watch: Danila Tkachenko

All images from the series Restricted Areas © Danila Tkachenko

The 25-year-old Moscow-based photographer Danila Tkachenko explores Russia's "secret cities" - the giant, snow-covered structures that once defined an era, and now lie in state

Danila Tkachenko is just 25 but has already won a World Press Photo – the Russian was awarded first prize in the Staged portraits stories category last year for a series called Escape, about men who have withdrawn from society to live as hermits.

Exploring human identity and the impact of globalisation, the story picks up Tkachenko’s favourite theme, “the conflict between the little man and the global machine of progress, which is ready to smash everything in its path”. He’s now working on a new series which looks at “the death of Russian villages and mass urbanisation”, and why “humanity is actively trying to break apart from nature”.

Another near-complete series, Restricted areas, documents Russia’s “secret cities”. Deserted places that were once sites of national importance, the abandoned buildings and machinery are now relics of the past. “I feel like I am an archeologist encountering the traces of a past civilisation in order to understand the reasons [why we] create these objects,” he says.

Tkachenko has just won the Lensculture Exposure award, and was also shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and Magnum’s 30 under 30 last year, but says he originally fell into photography by accident. He started taking pictures because his housemate did, but went on to win a place at The Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia, where he studied documentary photography.

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“For me, photography is first of all about the image, which together with the idea, creates an artwork,” says the Moscow-based photographer. “While working on a project it’s important for me to find the visual form that best presents the idea… my work starts with extensive research on the internet, then there is the trip and the shooting, and the third part is the selection of images.”

For now, his priority is to get enough money together to continue his personal work, which means applying to competitions and grants; but he also has curatorial ambitions, saying he “would like to present a selection of Russian photographers to a European audience through a series of exhibitions in Europe”. Tkachenko is still young, but he’s got a clear sense of purpose that belies his years.

See more of Danila’s work here. Stay up to date with stories such as this, delivered to your inbox every Friday.