Russian Railroad
A Photo Essay on Traversing Russia by Train
By Anastasia Kuba
Published Feb 2015
Photographer Statement: As a child growing up in Russia, traveling by train was one of my favorite activities. I remember looking out the window at passing villages and wondering about the people who lived there. What was their life like? What were their homes like? What stories could they tell? I could catch glimpses of villagers and their lives. The rocking sound of a train created a perfect atmosphere for daydreaming. When I turned 20 I moved to U.S. and became a portrait photographer. I go back once a year to visit my family and each time I go back, Russia appears familiar and mysterious at the same time. I feel like I belong, yet as an outsider… Trains to me represent a feeling of nostalgia that I experience every time I visit my home country. I wanted to create a photo project in which being on a train wouldn’t be my means to get somewhere, but would be my destination. Train cabins are a personal, private space that strangers share. There is a feeling of separation that simultaneously exists alongside a feeling of great intimacy. People wear sleeping masks and pajamas, play cards, read books, and eat homemade meals. Riding in the same car, people become roommates for a day or two, share stories, drinks, and space. As I moved through the train, I asked each person if I could take their portrait. Sometimes, the answer was a silent nod of the head while person continued to look out the window. In that case I would take his or her portrait and silently walk away. Sometimes our conversations were brief, sometimes we talked for hours and shared our life stories, sometimes I was invited to join for a meal… - Anastasia Kuba Full photo essay available in the print magazine only.