Amerika by Max Sher

Issue 31

"Would you describe our courtyard, how it looked like back then, so many years ago. I would say it was rather a dump of a courtyard. There were scraggly linden trees, two or three garages and behind them - piles of broken bricks and waste like that. But more importantly, there were old gas stoves scattered around, about three or four hundred of them, they had been brought in here from the neighbouring houses soon after the war. Our courtyard smelled like kitchen because of them. When we were opening their ovens, the oven doors, they creaked awfully. What were we opening those doors for? Why? It's strange that you don't understand that. We were opening them only to slam them back shut". - Sasha Sokolov

“If anybody asks you, tell them I went to America”. - Dostoevsky

The idea of the title was taken from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment - one of the characters before shooting himself says to the person present at the scene: 'If anybody asks you tell them I went to America". In the Russian literature, the imaginary 'Amerika' has long been a synonym of escape, nothingness, imagination, 'emigration' from life into the supersensual world of ideas and imagery.

The longer epigraph is a fragment from the lesser known Russian author Sasha Sokolov's book 'A School for Fools' - a novel with no storyline but full of magnificent imagery which works in its own right.

My Amerika has no story behind it, it reflects a certain state of mind and soul, hardly anything else. It was shot during my stay in a region where I had lived from the age of 11 to 23 - a difficult and formative period in my life. I went back to my old home after a long absence during the most melancholic season to come to terms with that period and to photograph.

The title also evokes the influence of and my admiration for the American photography.

Max Sher is a Moscow, Russia based artist.
To view more of Max's work, please visit his website