On the other side of the mountains

Our first encounter with the North Caucasus was of the region’s most relaxed republic: Karachay-Cherkessia, on the other side of the mountains from Sochi. There we discovered the village of Krasny Vostok. We wanted to portray the village precisely because it is so ordinary: the defunct factory, the unemployment as well as the rural feeling that the place conveyed to us. The Caucasus is more than just conflict and refugees, fundamentalist Islam, or billion-dollar Games. Less than two years after publication of On the other side of the mountains, a small revolution seemed to have taken place. The mayor resigned and “a clique around the imam,” as she puts it, has taken the reins. The Red East turns Green. We decided to return to Krasny Vostok in 2013.


© design kummer & herrman


Taisya Makova, when she was still mayor of the village
Town Hall, 2009


Civil servant Rubin Bidov’s cupboard
Town hall, 2009


The new mayor Vladimir Khabievich Dzhemakulov in his office
Town hall, 2013

“There’s a strong Islamic lobby. As soon as they feel a bite, they reel in the new converts. They won’t stop until we’re all leading Islamic lives.”

Former mayor Taisya Makova, 2013


Tribute to fallen soldiers in the school’s WWII Museum
School no. 1, 2009


Murat (11) waits for the afternoon disco
School no. 1, 2010


Disco at the school on Saturday afternoon
School no. 1, 2010


German teacher Boris Bezhanov (62)
School no.1, 2010

“It was 1966. I wanted to study languages in Sukhumi, but also to get to know our brothers; the Abkhazians. I met her in Sukhumi. Occasionally I was allowed to act as a guide for Intourist. I kept in touch with Renate for a long time.”

—Teacher Boris Bezhanov, 2010

rh100419_sp042_renate rh100419_sp044_renate

End ‘60s Renate went from the GDR to Abkhazia on holiday.
Boris Bezhanov’s house, 2010


Classroom where Boris teaches German
School no.1, 2010

“After 70 years of the Soviet Union, no one knows any more what the real Islamic practices are. So people come to me and ask whether they can throw fruit and drinks into the grave at a funeral. It’s not necessary, I say, but neither is there much against it.”

—Imam Mohamet Adzibekov, 2010


Imam Mohamet Adzibekov
Central mosque, 2013


Terik Bairamukov runs the mosque near the river
Lower mosque, 2013

“Everything is changing for the better. More people are coming to the mosque than before. We’re gaining influence in the village, and finally making it clear that those old traditions, such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs, are incompatible with Islam.”

—Imam Mohamet Adzibekov, 2013


Stella and Giorgi’s daughters Veronika and Viktoriya Ekzekova
Stella and Giorgi’s house, 2013


Former mayor Taisya and brother in law Giorgi
Stella and Giorgi’s house, 2013

“I want a husband with a house, a car, and a good job. Apart from that I can support myself. A good husband will leave me alone.”

—Veronika Ekzekova, 2010


Giorgi and uncle Husey slaughtering a sheep
Stella and Giorgi’s house, 2010


Dog eating the entrails of a slaughtered sheep
Stella and Giorgi’s house, 2010

“The imam here in the village was educated in Cairo, at a special place where they ‘breed’ bearded men.”

—Former mayor Taisya Makova, 2013


Former mayor’s driver (and uncle) Husey Aibasov
Lilya department store, 2010

‘I’d kill a boy if he took my daughter as his girlfriend.’

—Uncle Husey Aibasov, 2010

Farewell party with former mayor Taisya Makova, uncle Husey Aibasov and the Ekzekov family
The Honey Falls, Karachay Cherkessia, 2013

“You know what you should write down? You’re in the mountains. There are no deep rivers here. We aren’t very complicated.”

—Giorgi Ekzekov, 2010

“Ironically, the winner submitted a newspaper. A special newspaper though: if you disassemble the product consisting of 16 sheets of paper, you can hang them next to each other. Two copies can show both sides of the paper and allow you to complete your own Do It Yourself exhibition. An old medium used in an innovative way.”

—Jury report, Canon Prize, 2010


Newspaper / Exhibition

Text: Arnold van Bruggen. Design: Kummer & Herrman.

The publication came about because we wanted to design a flexible, portable exhibition for the European Month of Photography 2010, a joint venture between European photography festivals in Rome, Berlin, Bratislava, Vienna, and Luxembourg. On the other side of the mountains is a sixty-fourpage newspaper, which if you combine two newspapers, also functions as an exhibition measuring about 1.2 x 6 meters (4 x 20 feet).

30 x 41 cm (11 3/4 x 16 1/4 in. ), 64 pages, 32 color photographs, 1/2 broadsheet, print run of 12,000 copies. Design: Kummer & Herrman

Winner of the Dutch Canon Prize for Innovation in Photojournalism 2010

1 / 17

Examples of the Do-It-Yourself exhibition ‘On the other side of the mountains’

1 / 4

Vrij Nederland (Dutch), October 2013


nrc.next (Dutch), January 2010

“What started as a story about the difficult resurrection of a school in remotistan had once again become a story about Russian paranoia and xenophobia.”

—nrc.next, 2009


NRC (Dutch), January 2010