Davide Monteleone (b. 1974) started his photographic career in 2000, when he became an editorial photographer in Contrasto. The next year he moved to Moscow as a correspondent. This decision determined his ensuing career. Since 2003, Monteleone has lived between Italy and Russia, pursuing long-term personal projects. He published his first book Dusha, Russian Soul in 2007, followed by La Linea Inesistente, in 2009, Red Thistle in 2012 and Spasibo in 2013. His projects have brought him numerous awards, including various World Press Photo prizes and several grants like “Aftermath” or European Publisher Award, and the Carmignac Prize. In recent years he is carrying out projects for leading international magazines, foundations and cultural institutions, exhibiting and teaching and shooting short films. Since 2011 Davide is a member of VII Photo.
[…] “Chechnya has won, Russia has won”. Perhaps the losers are the many Chechens who chose to go into exile as a matter of honour. Those who stayed have returned to a normal life and can satisfy their basic needs after several decades of hardship. Such a “normal” life, however, requires them to make major compromises and often hold their tongues.
There is no alternative for those who want to work, have a home and carry on with their lives. In this state of reassuring stagnation, the authorities control everything, distributing favours as they please. The physical violence so prevalent in the post-conflict years, the kidnappings and the summary executions also seem to have decreased. The Chechens are so frightened that these acts of violence are almost no longer necessary. The violence is now psychological, a form of brainwashing that starts with the young.
Davide Monteleone’s study on identity gradually became the story of a compromise, one that all the inhabitants of this republic are forced to make with the authorities in return for a better life.
As he was told by a friend in the mountains around Itum-Kali who quoted a letter from Yermolov to Tsar Nicolas I during the Caucasus campaign: “The Chechens are a combative people, difficult to conquer, easier to buy.”
“Thank you Ramzan, thank you Russia” for everything. “Spasibo”.
To view more of David’s work, please visit his website.