Gora 3

These photographs were taken from a spot that local residents call “The Hill.” For many of them, this hill on the riverbank, where people have settled since ancient times, holds sacred value. When leaving or arriving, people come to The Hill, confiding their joys and sorrows to it first.

The first time I ended up on The Hill, I was six years old. My parents decided to move and live outside the city. They searched for a plot of land in remote areas, and one spring we went to “see the place.” After a long, seemingly endless journey, we arrived at a small village surrounded by forests and swamps, a hundred kilometers away from Moscow. As soon as I jumped out of the car and looked around, I saw that the road seemed to end about three hundred meters away from us. I decided to run along it and see what was at the end.

The road stopped abruptly at a precipice covered in clay bricks, and it transformed into an overgrown trail that stretched along the river, alongside fields where cows grazed freely. The trail disappeared into the forest, hiding what lay beyond the horizon. At the point where the road turned into the trail, an electric transformer stood and emitted a faint hum, as if guarding the exit from the territory known to humans.

About the Artist

Ilya Batrakov (b. 1985) took up photography towards the end of his studies at the Moscow University of Geodesy and Cartography. It all started with pictures of skateboarders, animals, and idyllic landscapes, and then, the growing passion for photography resulted in studies at the Rodchenko School, a residence at the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts, group and solo exhibitions in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, and Riga. Today, the artist's works can be found at the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum, the Düsseldorf Museum “Kunst im Tunnel”, and private collections.

About the “Morok” project: “Since childhood, when I’m sick, I see war in my dreams, and fragments of reality are woven into these dreams, full of anxiety and chaos. In those dreams, there are two recurring elements. First, my father and I defend a small plot of land, and our weapons stop working. Second, the familiar space transforms into an alien, scorched, mangled land covered with trash, all the traces of the past erased from its surface. The project started the moment I saw forest rangers’ marks on trees in the forest where I grew up and with which I developed a special connection through my mother. The trees were to be cut, and I decided to capture the forest with my camera. 15 years later, almost nothing has remained of the forest. They started cutting it down to clear a power line. Later on, they kept doing it to fight the bark beetle. And then, the wind came and knocked down what had been thoughtlessly exposed by man. “Morok” is an attempt to put together materials capturing places that are meaningful to me before they vanish.”
Print Name: Gora 3
Artist Name: