15 Was A Good Age follows the last five to six years of photographs taken whilst being in the company of my group of friends. These photographs highlight the lost years, with its true nostalgic presence, as we all set off into the inevitable life of adulthood. Growing up, a huge influence on myself and my friends was the work of English musician, Jamie T. In an interview back in 2009, Jamie spoke about how 15 was his favourite age. Something about what he said, although plainly easy to understand, has stuck with me over the years. Whilst I have continued to document my friends and our adventures, I began to realise that nothing good lasts forever and through the taking of these pictures, I was creating an archive for our group of friends to look back on in years to come.
For 27 years, Transnistria - a narrow strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova, a length of about 125 miles - has the status of an unrecognized state.
The heroes of my story are young people who were born and grew up on this territory. I belong to this generation myself, as I am the same age as Transnistria. The official culture, promoted by the authorities, is often boring and not interesting to young people who were formed in the era of the Internet. They are not limited by the borders of one state and have the opportunity to form their own cultural identity, including by observing their peers from other countries.
In Soviet times, the Palace of Pioneers was called a place where teenagers could find their favorite occupation, a section (circle) of their own interest. In my story this is a figurative concept. Young people independently form their own sections or circles on interests, and the urban environment and the Internet space are used as a platform for the self-expression of young generation.
Club No. 19 is the only alternative platform in Transnistria for youth, which was established in 2012. The club constantly invites various music groups and conducts numerous activities for young people. This is the place where they can express themselves, for example, hold their own exhibition or perform a concert.
Heavy music festival in Club No. 19, Tiraspol.
Andrei Zagorsky (31 years old): “Music, like any work of art, should evoke your feelings. In fact, we now have 2 groups in Transnistria who play hard music. These guys I support in every possible way. Perhaps my most cherished dream is to get to Wacken or Hellfest - the world's largest metal festivals. Also I dream on some radio station to make an ether devoted to metal, to try to introduce more people to the right music.”
In Transnistria, active youth, is mostly school-age children. After graduation, most of them will go for a new education and work in neighboring Moldova, Ukraine or to more distant Russia and Europe. Unfortunately, back home a very small percentage of these people.
Tiraspol is the capital, as well as the largest city of Transnistria. The city is located on the eastern bank of the Dniester River. The population of Transnistria is approximately 450 thousand people.
Tiraspol. An unfinished bank in the city-center became a place for hangouts of teenagers. This urban place temporarily became for them a platform for honing their skills.
Eduard Gotynyan (18 years old): “I decided to start skating 3 years ago when a small skatepark appeared in Tiraspol. I was interested in learning to do something on these little bikes and learning new tricks. This is what attracts me to this culture. The youth of Transnistria do not have enough places where they could hang out, spend time together. It's good that we have this place, but it is not enough to develop and learn something new. I was in Germany once, and I have a dream to go there. I like that there are many places for cycling, and there is the opportunity to constantly develop yourself. And in general, it's just fine in Germany.”
Skatepark in the center of Tiraspol is one of the places in the city where you can always meet young people engaged in extreme sports.
While in the neighboring Moldova and Ukraine there are processes of decommunization, disposal of the Soviet heritage, in Transnistria, on the contrary, they preserve monuments related to the Soviet past. For example, in many localities the central place is still occupied by monuments to Lenin. But for the younger generation, born after the collapse of the USSR, these objects are more like scenery, on the background of which their daily life passes, it is not the bearers of ideology or propaganda.
The former printing house, now abandoned, in the city of Bender is sometimes used as a place where hip hop dance competitions take place.
One of the participants in the hip-hop dance competition.
One of the representatives of hip-hop culture in Transnistria is Mikhail Kalkavura (28 years old): “I learned about hip-hop when in the mid-90's on television began to broadcast the MTV channel. This sparked a wave of interest in many subcultures - through the music and clips that we saw. Over time, I began to explore and discover myself through different directions of hip-hop and, in particular, through break dance. Unfortunately, for many who are engaged here hip-hop, in the future it can not become their profession and allow them to feed their families. This hampers the development of hip-hop in the region, as succession between generations is lost. I do not exclude the possibility that I will also need to leave my native land, but so far I dream that I will be able to somehow positively influence our society!”
Broadwalk in Tiraspol. Sometimes the guys are setting up an improvised dance floor in the city-center and perform in front of the walking citizens.
Alexander Gordeev (15 years old): “I preferred to do a street workout, since this is the most accessible kind of sport that trains the body and spirit. Now there are a lot of guys here who show an excellent level, and judging by the growing number of people who are engaged in a workout, it will soon become a mainstream in Transnistria. I think that this is due to the fact that the training areas for the workout began to appear, and people began to pay more attention to their appearance. I have no dreams, now everything that happens in my life suits me. Everything goes on as usual.”
Participant of the workout movement in Transnistria.
Leonid Anisimov (16 years old): “I chose the workout, because it is an entertaining sport. I have a dream and I try to implement it. I dream to compete at the World Championships in workout. I know it will not be soon, because you need to train a lot more to show a decent level. I also want to meet and train with the best athletes on Street Workout.”
A fan of the football club, Sheriff at an away match of his team. In Transnistria, since 1996, the football team, Sheriff has been active, around which the ultras movement was formed. Fans support their team in all matches of the championship of Moldova.
A fight between Sheriff and Zimbru fans after the exit game, near the capital of Moldova, Chisinau.
One of the fans, who suffered during the fight between the fans of Sheriff and Zimbru.
Igor Diacenco (24 years old). Tattoo master. "It can be said that I am self-taught. I learned to do tattoos watching different videos from the Internet. I think it's very cool when you can influence the appearance of people, and I like the process itself, it's such an intimate connection with blood, something ancient. There are very few people who do well tattoos here."
"Here, in Transnistria, it's cozy and nice. I spent my childhood and teenage years there, a lot of connections with this place, but on the other hand it's pretty wild for someone like me, sometimes strange rules and regulations. My dream is quite trivial. I want to be healthy and develop my skills in drawing. I want to feel confident and calm, do my own business and enjoy life."
Tanya Dunaevskaya (21 years old): “I was self-taught and learned to make tattoos on my own body. The first tattoo I made myself at 14 years old. At that time I was engaged in equestrian sport, and then my horse died. In his memory I made myself a tattoo. People react differently to my image, relatives are positive, others are more negative of course. As for life in Transnistria ... The minuses of life here is that there is a lot of soviet things, but the pluses are probably that there is almost nothing in the cultural sphere, and you can start doing something yourself and be a pioneer. My dream is to buy a horse and live on a ranch.”
Tanya tattooing one of her clients at her home.
Nite of Thunders documents the scene of the ‘drag racer’ at the iconic Irwindale Speedway in Southern California.
Since 1999 the race track has hosted countless events, from official NASCAR competitions, to open to the public contest such as the 1/8-mile drag-strip.
Here is where I focus, portraying his protagonists, fearless people that travel at a 140 mph average speed.
On August 9, 2017 it was officially announced that as of January 31, 2018, Jim Cohan, CEO of Team 211 Entertainment, who operates the track under the name of Irwindale Event Center, would cease operation.