Interview 04
Sergey Novikov


Sergey Novikov, born 1979 in Cheboksary, is now based in Moscow, Russia. He completed several courses and workshops between 2004 and 2015. He was part of numerous exhibitions and got published in several Russian and European magazines and web photo blogs, including Esquire Russia, Russian Reporter, F-Stop Magazine, Lenscratch and others.

The work presented here is about so-called „closed cities“. Confrontation with West gave rise to a special type of territorial unit in Soviet Union- "closed cities". They served as nuclear weapon development or disposal sites, home to the navy and missile forces. These cities were not mapped, had encrypted names and were called "mailboxes". Residents of these cities have been told not to mention their place of living, to use name of the nearest major city.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet state and the changes it brought those cities remained closed. To enter these closed cities you need a pass and an invitation usually from a close relative. The majority of inhabitants is still against the opening of these cities, worrying about crowds of migrants, homeless and criminals. The cities remain some kind of utopia where there is a quite precise definition of “we” – separated from the “others”.

Sergey created the project “ZATO” based on his memories and experiences he made visiting such places, adding knowledge he gained from web forums and social media. Interesting about his project is that many of the pictures were not taken in the closed cities; some of them however were taken there by local photographers on Sergeys behalf.

Yet Sergey doesn’t see himself as documentary or art photographer but as a person who found himself through photography. He expresses himself by transforming his observations into images. Even though Sergey says he has not yet found his way in photography we think he is doing an exceptional good job in trying to do so.