Bieke Depoorter's Journey Across Russia • Magnum Photos

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Arts & Culture

Bieke Depoorter’s Journey Across Russia

Belgian photographer Bieke Depoorter captures intimate images of strangers' homes as she travels alone across Russia for her project 'Ou Menya'

Bieke Depoorter

For this project, Bieke Depoorter spent three periods of one month following the route of the TransSiberian Express stopping at the forgotten villages along the way. Once she reached a village, she would ask residents if she could stay with them, moving from living room to living room each night.

She had some Russian words scribbled on a little piece of paper that allowed her to be welcomed and absorbed in the warm chaos of a family. Accidental encounters led her to the places where she could sleep. The living room, the epicentre of their life, established an intimate contact between her and the Russian inhabitants. For a brief moment, she experienced a transient, but very powerful, shared moment.

“For three periods of one month, I have let the Trans-Siberian train guide me alongside forgotten villages, from living roomto living room. Some Russian words, scribbled on a little piece of paper, allowed me to be welcomed and absorbed in the warm chaos of a family. Accidental encounters led me to the places where I could sleep. The living room, the epicenter of their life, establishes an intimate contact between the Russian inhabitants. For a brief moment, I was part of this. Their couch became my bed for one night.”

Ou Menya is the result of this journey, for which she received the HP Magnum Expression Award.