Nika Russia любовь {LOVE}

Nika Russia LOVE,  любовь in Russian, is an intimate portrait in photography, film and a series of interviews, often conducted like prose, assembling a young woman’s life, Nika, and that of her friends living in Russia’s metropolis Moscow, most of whom are coping with HIV and their addictive past.

The project, in its essence, is an ode to friendship and hardships fought in Moscow’s daily life. Where love, warmth and the intimacy of friendship reigns as a sensorial antidote against the personal struggle of those within the HIV-community, remaining clean, and to safeguard a positive and activist position imagining one’s future, all the while living an underdog position within Russian society. All the same, the project is a remembrance of those photographed, unable to overcome their struggle with addiction. In the end, they succombed due to an overdose…

The project may have a pursuit, in film, with new characters (based upon the short film created in 2005-2007): A Russian Tale {of LOVE}.

In 2011 a photographic essay was published by TIME, Lightbox, ‘Nika’s Journey Growing Up‘, by Ilse Frech & Paul Moakley.

Ilse Frech followed Nika, from 2005 until 2007, travelling and living between Moscow and St. Petersburg. During these years, she forges a relationship of trust, becoming a lifetime friendship.

From the essay, by Paul Moakley: [..] “During this time the photographer had her own moment of tragedy. Her brother committed suicide, and in that time, she had a realization about the project. “As much as I wanted to portray young Russian adults with HIV and AIDS in their intimate environment, showing their struggles, in life, love, and sadness, the project reflected my own struggle,” Frech says.

“I made endless amounts of photographs —working non-stop to show these young adults who had overcome their own struggle.” Frech felt she needed to find the answer to the question, ‘How come someone doesn’t want to live anymore?’ which was parallel to finding the answer to ‘What makes someone actually say yes to life?’ As Nika shared her own stories, their bond grew and the relationship between documentarian and subject became ambiguous and more personal.”

 

Ilse Frech followed Nika, from 2005 until 2007, travelling and living between Moscow and St. Petersburg. During these years, she forges a relationship of trust, becoming a lifetime friendship.
Project

NIKA

RUSSIA

LOVE

I.: Si je vais dire ‘Nika’, tu vas me raconter quoi, de toi-même?

N.: Je vais dire que c’est un prénom. C’est tout. Je ne sais pas. Une personne…avec un coeur. Avec un grand coeur. Une petite personne avec un grand coeur! Une personne, qui sait ce que l’amitié veut dire. Nika, elle a beaucoup de personnes qui l’adorent, plein de gens qui l’aiment.

 

 

I did not only wish to be admired, but to be famous, to be a star. Because I was lonely, and it was not enough just to have a few friends… I wanted to have more and more.

Z.: When I used this drug, every fucking day, we would sit in the kitchen and talk, and talk, and talk… Take this drug and talk and talk.

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