Sergei Stroitelev (RU) "The Strongest Bond" - Helphoto 2022



The Strongest Bond
In 2015, young men from Chechnya and Dagestan began to leave for territories controlled by the Islamic State, searching for a better life, which recruiters promised them. Following  tradition, their families had to follow them. The year 2017 was marked by campaigns to clear the above territories from illegal gangs. Men were killed during bombings, whereas their wives, who had children, received sentences ranging from 15 years to life. Some girls have gone missing and have not been in touch with their mothers for several years. Back at home mothers are ready for anything to return their daughters and grandchildren home. Love, hope and sleepless nights – that is all they have. Stroitelev projects photographs of the missing ones onto the figures of their mothers and their surroundings showing that the war has no boundaries – it can affect people living miles away from the conflict. He wants to display the strongest bond there is, the one between relatives, which cannot be destroyed by distance and time.


Sergei Stroitelev (1985) is a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UKUSA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela and more. His photographic practice focuses primarily on the exploration issues in modern society. With the help of different visual languages and forms he looks at problems of identities of minorities, gender, health and racial prejudice, ecology and consumerism. He often executes very personal photographic projects exploring his own inner demons, past and family. Stroitelev has received a number of international contests such as being crowned the winner of Bartur Photo Awards 2021 in the Unity in Diversity Professional category, the Award of Excellence in the portrait series category at POYi 2021. He has won in the Istanbul Photo Awards’  Daily Life Story category in 2018, and is the winner of Debut’s 2018 photography contest organized by Doc! Photo Magazine. He was awarded third place at Direct Look photography contest 2018, is a finalist of Hellerau Portraits Awards 2016 and 2017, is the winner of Luis Valtuena Humanitarian Photography Award, 2016, granted by Doctors of the World NGO. He was involved in developing the grant in 2017 in Reggio Calabria, Italy, in cooperation with the local branch of Doctors of the World, whilst also working on several projects about the issue of migration in the region. Stroitelev also teaches photography at the Fotografika academy in Saint Petersburg.

Sergei Stroitelev (RU) "The Strongest Bond" - Helphoto 2022
Sergei Stroitelev (RU) "The Strongest Bond" - Helphoto 2022