Udmurtya: a project by Sofya Tatarinova

Sofya Tatarinova´s first impression of Udmurtya was of wealthy villages in the beautiful, amazing nature. It seems that nothing wrong could happen there. Then she learnt the story of her hostess, whose husband committed suicide 6 years ago. Later she found more stories of other widows in this village.

[dropcap type=”1″]U[/dropcap]dmurtya is the Russian region with one of the highest rates of suicides amongst males. The World Health Organization says that from the end of 1980s this region has one of the highest levels of suicides in the world.

Mostly Udmurts hang themselves in the woods. There are several reasons for that. One is in the cultural traditions of this Finno-Ugric nation. Udmurts are shamanists, they have a inseparable connection to the nature. Worshipping nature is an essential part of their rituals. Most rituals happen in the woods. Udmurt legends say that the ropes used for the suicide are imparted with mystical power.

Amongst other reasons there could be named alcohol and extraordinary vulnerability of the Udmurt men. They are easily offended. For example, some killed themselves just because of gossips of their unfaithful wives.

Sofya Tatarinova is focused on the portraits of widows, their stories and the images of the surrounding landscapes which could be possible places of suicide. With the question “Why suicide did and is happening so often there?”  Sofya tries to find her answer with showing the atmosphere of dark woods, which surrounds the small villages. Through the picture a spectator can feel this very special mood of endless nature, which may be a reason why strong healthy men kill themselves.

In the winter Udmurtya has a severe climate with temperatures of – 30° Celsius and more. To fall in the snow means most of the time death. By building snow sculptures Udmurts try to overcome their fear of snow by transforming it into a fantasy. They create snow figures from fairy tales – beautiful and frightening, as their own life.

About the author:
Sofya Tatarinova was born in Moscow in 1984. In 2007 she graduated from Moscow Press University, then in 2008 she studied at Vadim Gushchin’s photoschool and the Rodchenko School of Photography. Since then she has of solo, group exhibitions and publications in Russia, Austria, the USA, Germany and France. Her works are in the collection of Bank of America, “Stiftung Südtiroler Sparkasse”, private collections. She won the prize of the Moscow House of Photography in 2009, the Glocal Rookie Award in Italy in 2011. She is a member of the Russian Photographic Union. She lives and works in Innsbruck.

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