Documenting Chechnya

October appears to be the month for hard-hitting black-and-white photography.

Security forces attending the 10th annual celebration of Constitution Day.

Source: © Davide Monteleone, VII Photo for the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award

Security forces attending the 10th annual celebration of Constitution Day.

First we had the uncompromising images commissioned for Shelter going on show at the Science Museum; and now the Saatchi Gallery is to present a series of images depicting war-torn Chechnya.

The exhibition, entitled Spasibo, presents images by Italian photojournalist Davide Monteleone, which are going on show for the first time in the UK.

Christian Orthodox celebration of kupanie v prorubi (bathing in a hole in the ice) during the Epiphany

Source: © Davide Monteleone, VII Photo for the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award

Christian Orthodox celebration of kupanie v prorubi (bathing in a hole in the ice) during the Epiphany

The title is taken from the Russian word for “thank you”, and according to Saatchi Gallery, “can be read as an ironic gesture of gratitude to Chechnya’s oppressors”.

Monteleone’s career began as editorial photographer for the Contrasto agency. In 2001, he moved to Moscow as a correspondent and has since divided his time between Russia and Italy. The Chechnya photography was captured between December 2012 and April 2013, when Monteleone was funded to work in the country through winning the fourth edition of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award.

Rada, age 14, trying on a wedding dress

Source: © Davide Monteleone, VII Photo for the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award

Rada, age 14, trying on a wedding dress

Monteleone shows people going about their lives – trying on wedding dresses, training – but with an oppressive twist.

Wrestling practice in the central gym.

Source: © Davide Monteleone, VII Photo for the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award

Wrestling practice in the central gym.

The wrestlers in a gym, for instance, train uneasily under the watchful eyes of portraits of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov and Akhmad Kadyrov hanging over them. And the girl trying on the dress is only 14 years-old.

The exhibition marks the UK launch of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award.

Spasibo is on show from 11 October – 3 November at Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, London SW3 4RY

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