Anton Polyakov & Anna Galatonova

Photographers Anton Polyakov & Anna Galatonova (both born in 1990) are among the first generation who identify themselves as “Transnistrians”, out of Transnistria, a population who were born and grew up in a country that isn’t recognized anywhere. Rooted between Moldova and the Ukraine, the independent republic still carries out a traditional way of life in close relationship to agriculture. The duo decided to explore this secluded way of living in the series Mahala, which is the Moldavian word for friendly people who together form some kind of community.

The idyllic scenery Polyakov and Galatonova shot is located in the countryside which, due to an economic and political crisis initiated by the post-Soviet transition, is slowly dying out. Young people experience a lack of jobs, entertainment and growth opportunities and are doing anything in order to escape this rural regency. The resulting photographs show kids who congregate in outstretched cornfields, bus stops, tree houses and shacks to while away their time. They’re mainly occupied with who likes who and following a traditional career path, as most boys want to serve in the army and girls dream about becoming a nurse. The series is simultaneously melancholic and upright, depicting not just what looks like a rustic and carefree environment to grow up in, but also a sensitivity towards the young generation in conflict with an undefined future.