Portraits of Russian and Ukrainian Prisoners

I ran across these portraits online last week, and thought they were really beautiful. They were taken by photographer Michal Chelbin, and put on display by the Andrea Meislin Gallery.

The photo’s were taken as a part of a project produced by an Israeli husband and wife couple – Michal Chelbin and Oded Plotnizki who spent three years photographing prisons in Ukraine and Russia from 2008 to 2010. They put their work in a book titled “Sailboats and Swans”.

Some of these people look really hardened, but others just look young and lonely.

According to Chelbin and Plotnizki the atmosphere in each institution was really different. Some facilities were like a “living hell,” and other residents “were like zombies.”

What do you think of these pictures? Have you ever been inside a Russian prison?

P.S. all photos in this post are by Michal Chelbin and were found here.

PPS. TIME Magazine’s article on the project can be found here.

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4 Responses to Portraits of Russian and Ukrainian Prisoners

  1. Suz says:

    Very moving. Putting soulful faces on lives that are otherwise quite abstract.

    • breakfastinmoscow says:

      Suz, I agree! Such talented photographers. It gives us a glimpse into lives and places we otherwise wouldn’t encounter.

  2. Phyllis says:

    I’ve never been inside a Russian prison, but what struck me was how much these photos look like orphanages!

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