Fedor Telkov (born Nizhny Tagil) graduated from the Graphic Arts Department of the Nizhny Tagil State Social and Pedagogical Academy. Member of the Union of Photographers of Russia since 2010. In his works, he explores the anthropological and cultural diversity of the Urals and Russia, referring not only to the life of representatives of small indigenous peoples, but also to post-industrial landscapes in the vicinity of the Ural settlements and cities. Lives and works in Yekaterinburg.
GEO, The Guardian, The Independent Photographer, Lamono, British Journal of Photography, Critical Mess, Landscape Stories magazine, Clavoardiendo Magazine, The Russian Reporter, Port, YET magazine, F-Stop Magazine, Colors, The Calvert Journal, Forbes, Metropol, Life force magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Times, Photobookstore magazine, Clavoardiendo magazine, BBC and others.
- 2021 – Winner of the Pictures of the Year Asia competition.
- 2020 – Laureate of the State Prize in the field of contemporary art “Innovation 2020” in the nomination “Project of the Year”, Moscow, Russia.
- 2020 – Winner of Urbanautica SACRED. THE EXPERIENCE OF BEYOND, Italy.
- 2018 – Finalist of the New East Photo Prize 2018, London, UK.
- 2018, 2016 – Laureate of the Andrey Stenin International Competition of Photojournalism, Moscow, Russia.
- 2016 – Winner of the Fotocanal Photography BOOK competition, Madrid, Spain.
- 2016 – Finalist of the international competition “Photomuseum 2016 grant”, London, UK.
- 2013 – Laureate of the “Circuito OFF” competition at the “Festival di Cortona”, Italy.
Selected solo exhibitions:
- 2019 – “36 Views”. Kaunas Gallery. Kaunas, Lithuania.
- 2018 – “36 Kinds”. Photographic Museum “Metenkov’s House”. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2017 – “Alania. Covenant / Blood of the Narts”. North Caucasian branch of the State Museum and Exhibition Center “ROSIZO”. Vladikavkaz, Russia.
- 2016 – “Junction”. VDNKh. Moscow, Russia.
- 2016 – “The Other Side of the Wall”. Center of Photography “Mart”. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2015 – “North Line”. Museum of Fine Arts. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2008 – “Okna”. Galerie 4. Cheb, Czech Republic.
Selected group exhibitions:
- 2019 – “Ural Mari. There is no death”. Co-authored with Natalia Konradova, Alexander Sorin. Special project of the 5th Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art. Yeltsin Center. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2019 – “Open Limits”. XIII Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale of Contemporary Art. Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
- 2019 – “Somewheres & Anywheres: Young Photography from Eastern Europe”. EEP Berlin’s Gallery. Berlin, Germany.
- 2018 – “Obscura Festival of Photography”. Penang, Malaysia.
- 2018 – Tragedy in the corner. Moscow City Museum. Moscow, Russia.
- 2017 – 4th Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2016 – “Timorous Beasties”. Studio e Gallery. Bellevue, USA.
- 2015 – 3rd Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art. Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 2014 – “Open Border Festival”. Amsterdam, Holland.
- 2013 – “Pingyao International Photography Festival”. Pingyao, China.
- 2012 – Biennale of Photography “FotoFest 12”. Houston, USA.
All author's works
“Thirty-six Views Of Mount Fuji” is a famous series of colored woodcuts by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Fuji, Japan’s sacred mountain, is present in every image in the series. In the title of his series, Fyodor Telkov ironically suggests a juxtaposition of the traditional Japanese landscape, woven into the flesh of national culture, and the modern post-industrial landscape of Degtyarsk, a town in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, dominated by two piles of waste rock from local mines. The photographer puts it this way: “The once-successful copper-mining company has left the town in a state of environmental disaster: the waste water from the mines still poisons the soil and the water supply, and the waste dumps have a high radiation background. <...> The dumps are visible from almost anywhere in Degtyarsk, they dominate the town, and people live at their feet. The dumps are a metaphor for the post-Soviet economy and the current state of single-factory towns scattered all over the country.”
One of the central themes in Fyodor Telkov’s work is the state of Russian monotowns. In his “Smog” series, the photographer tells of the contemporary state of Russia’s main industrial region, the Urals. Plants began to be built in the Urals as early as the seventeenth century and towns sprang up around the largest manufacturing facilities. Industrialization of the twentieth century gave an impetus to the development of the region, but in the 1990s many factories collapsed or were looted. For single-industry towns, the closure of a factory was tantamount to ruin: city life, which had previously been built around large-scale production, was disintegrating. The beginning of the post-industrial era, which brought with it new guidelines and production technologies, was reflected in the landscape and appearance of cities – according to Telkov, their present condition is well described by the metaphor of smog. He compares the traces of industrial pollution hanging in the air with the debris of closed factories, decaying buildings, quarries, mines and memories of the past that are still invisibly present in the atmosphere of the cities. The photographer captures portraits of residents and landscapes of Nizhny Tagil, Yekaterinburg, Beryozovsky, Pervouralsk and other cities in the region.
The Narts are heroes of a North Caucasian epic. Tales of them are still popular in North Ossetia-Alania, where the names of bogatyrs are often given to boys, and martial arts retain links of folklore. Fyodor Telkov’s “The Blood of the Narts” project looks at how the legacy of our ancestors lives on in contemporary Ossetian culture. Sagas glorifying the strong and proud man who cannot fail, feed the modern cult of struggle. This is how the author talks about the project: “Today every boy in the country is engaged in some kind of martial arts, but the most popular sport here is, of course, freestyle wrestling. It is very important here to be strong, brave and behave in accordance with the rules accepted in the Caucasus. I believe that a kind of machismo has developed in North Ossetia-Alania, based on its cultural, ethical heritage.” Portraits of Ossetians in Telkov’s project are interspersed with reportage sketches and collages, where landscapes become the setting for mythological scenes.
The project was implemented with the financial and technical support of the North Caucasus Branch of the State Museum and Exhibition Center “ROSIZO”.
The Urals have always held a special place in Russian history. In ancient times it was a source of rich and distinctive folklore, in which elements of European and Asian civilizations merged. In the XVII century it became the country’s industrial center, giving rise to a unique literature and culture, which reflected both pagan variety and factory ethics. The Urals actually became the protagonist of Fyodor Telkov’s series, a photographer living in Yekaterinburg. Telkov has dedicated his series “Tales” to the Urals folklore tradition. This is what he says about the project: “The Urals is not just a geographical junction, but also a melting pot of different cultures. The first people came here many centuries before our era. The first people came here many centuries before our era. In the Middle Ages, pagan, Muslim, and Christian cultures met here and managed not to exterminate each other, merging into something new. Russians, Tatars, Bashkirs, Ukrainians, Udmurts, Zyryans, Mari, and Mansi still live side by side in the Urals. <...> The title of the project is a reference to the tales of Bazhov. He was the first to turn to Ural mythology and turn pagan gods into fairy-tale characters, integrating them into factory culture and among the Ural working-class heroes.” The stylistics of the series – black and white, indistinct, sometimes blurred shooting – create a sense of ambiguity, of boundary between the world of reality and the world of the fairy tale, and immerse the viewer in a state of ghostly reverie.
There Is No Death
The collective project “Ural Mari. There Is No Death” aims at documenting and penetrating deeper into the traditional culture of Finno-Ugric peoples, especially the tradition of rituals related to death. Today only rudiments remain of the complex ancient funeral ceremonies: it is customary to bring flowers to the grave and pour a shot of vodka for the deceased…The symbolism and sacral meaning of these gestures should be sought in the culture of the ancient peoples, which is still preserved in remote villages Photographer Fyodor Telkov was one of the first to investigate the life of Mari villages and to show how old feasts, most of which are associated with deceased ancestors, are celebrated today. Most of the rituals are aimed at preventing the dead from disturbing the living, as the Mari believe that the boundary between the worlds is transparent and can be crossed easily. The project shows not only old traditions, but also a living process of synthesis of various religious and mystical beliefs – from grandparents’ stories, television, the Internet and from contemporary esoteric literature.
Persecution of Old Believers began in the 17th century, when Patriarch Nikon at the Local Council of the Russian Church declared all people who baptize with two fingers heretical. In response to repression – torture, executions, imprisonment in monasteries – Old Believers began to resort to mass self-immolation. The consequences of this ecclesiastical schism are still being felt to this day. Today, being or becoming Old Believers is only thinkable either for those who adopted the faith from the older generation, who in turn returned to religious life after the collapse of the USSR, or those who fled to remote villages lost in the forests. There are disputes between various ‘consents’, or associations of Old Believers about how to practice the faith: some recognize the Russian Orthodox Church, while others refuse to do so. “Right To Believe” by Fyodor Telkov is a visual study of the life of Old Believers in the Urals, which the author would like to further expand to include other regions. The stylistics of the series play with the style of photography of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the period to which the first photographic evidence of Old Believers belong.
The stylistics of Fyodor Telkov’s black-and-white photographs do not hark back to the 20th-century classical reportage, but to 19th-century ethnographic photography. Similarly, the theme of the series, hunting with hounds, is known to us primarily through the realistic prose of the nineteenth century. Leo Tolstoy describes this hunt in his “Childhood”, for example: it is one of the few situations in which a peasant can subdue his lord. Nevertheless, during the Soviet times both this kind of leisure and the greyhound and hound breeds were considered “lordly” and were on the verge of extinction. Today it is an exotic form of recreation sustained by a handful of amateurs. The hound hunting has its own code of ethics (for example, to hunt without a gun and not to kill a beast which ran away from the dogs), its own rich language, e.g. greyhound body parts are called the way medieval dog-keepers did and the barking of hounds is compared with singing, and an equally rich visual component. Fyodor Telkov’s series is not so much about the adherents of hound hunting themselves today, but rather offers an appreciation of the beauty behind this ancient tradition.