The Others (2010)
Project “The others” is based on Russian society problems. In Europe (where authors had lived several years) the discrimination problems is not that pronounced, people tend to accept “the other”, live along with him (even if they do not like him), consider him equal, find compromises etc.
How this attitude had been formed? Western civilization of individualism, which is sometimes criticized because of dissociation, has certain advantages: it has not only collective faceless “We”, but a pair “Me and the other”.
In Russia, though, being different give rise to hostility: «Why is he/she like that? Be like everybody else! Or we will…». During last hundred years we used to think that everybody should be the same, grown together with our collective soviet body and perceive uniqueness as an offense.
The category “the other” gives us ability to increase self-knowledge, indicating: “This is the other!” and to ask a question: «Who am I then?». The other helps us to have a sensation of our uniqueness, and this can not be done unless the other has a right to exist.
People, who agreed to take part in this documentary project are not the timid type. Not everybody can say, for example “I’m HIV+” looking into the lens of a camera. To say this means to bear all prejudices and stereotypes in society, such as: “All HIV+ are drug-addicted and prostitutes”. Such a “brand” we give to the subject preclude us from understanding and force to reject him/her.
It would be to naive to plan state program and actions focused on mass acceptance of “the others”. If there is no individual intellectual effort, western financial support nor protection of human rights programs, nor western philosophical conception can not help. Yet such a “homoeopathic injection” as several documentary photographs with small stories can invoke the process, make somebody to think about human rights problem. «I want to teach young people think!» – is the purpose of staying in Russia of one of the participants, professor S. Lunga from London. He lives in Russia for almost 30 years and every single day feels discrimination.
In the project “The others” art become an instrument of communication and photographer tie together two thin threads – “Me” and “the other”. It is not simple to understand that each one of us is “the other”, not “bad”, with regards to somebody else.