Winter still dominates much of the northern hemisphere, so it's only fitting to feature more photographs on this subject. This special season only heightens the feeling of loneliness and the perception of endlessness with its foggy textures and white-gray hues, but what happens when these feelings and perceptions are presented in an area with less than one person per square kilometer? Alexander Gronksy tries to answer that question in his series, "Less Than One".
Alexander Gronsky has already been previously featured here for his series "The Edge", photographs that explore the meeting points of the urban and rural, civilization and nature, and everything that involves these boundaries. He focuses most of his energies into exploring old concepts and presenting them in a new format, especially with regards to subjects in Russia.
In his series, "Less than 1", Gronsky points his camera at the same subjects, but this time with the aim of documenting the areas in Russia with a population density of only one person per square kilometer. The photographer traveled to the countries outlying areas to see what life is like in such a sparse environment. The results might look like of his other projects, but the element of his purpose adds an additional dimension the photographs in this series.
The photos in this series were also taken during the making of Gronksy's other work, "The Edge". This previous project done in the cold months of winter on the outskirts of Moscow heightened the sense of loneliness and isolation of his subjects as well as provide a more minimalist view for the entire series. Gronksy also revisited several of these sites, as he took three years to complete this work beginning in 2006.
While many of these photographs lack a human subject, there is still a strong feeling of people, whether it's the sense of their awaited arrival, or the dread of their imminent departure. Scenes like a colorful playground without any children, a group of townspeople seeing off the lone ferry at their port, or simply the trash littered around the ground all point to a civilization that seems to be waiting for spring in order to start living again.
Even with the strong human element in his images, Gronsky sees himself more as a landscape photographer. This frame of mind only helps to emphasis the environment in his photographs as they add a strong foundation for his visual stories. Thus, Gronksy has been described as a photographer who belongs to the new generation of graphic documentary photographers.
Gronksy's series on these places in Russia have a strong sense of nostalgia, as if the old days of the Soviet Empire still reign, yet they also hint at a more hopeful future, when spring will come to wash away the gloom. For this beautiful collection showing what the world is like in a place with a population of only less than one, Gronsky received the Foam Paul Huf Award for 2010.
Alexander Gronsky's website is here. His previous series on "The Edge" can be found here. His published works can be found in the book, Contact Sheet 166: Pastoral. For more features on landscape photographers, check out these previous posts.