Photographs by Davide Monteleone.
Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2014. 164 pp., 86 duotone illustrations, 9½x11".
Today Chechnya is an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation, subdued and pacified by force after centuries of rebellion against Moscow. Putin protégé president Ramzan Kadyrov holds absolute power and has almost limitless support from Moscow.
»Davide Monteleone is well acquainted with the complex, tormented life of ordinary Chechens. He has crisscrossed the country, stopping in cities and villages, mountains and forests. This book contains neither majestic city- or country-scapes nor bloodspattered depictions of violence. Monteleone rather shows us the otherwise invisible: the stifling atmosphere, the regnant helplessness and fear, the young women resigned to their fate, and the elderly, whose traditional authority has diminished in the face of Kadyrov’s brutes.
But Monteleone’s photographs also depict hope. Chechens are a mountain people who have endured wars and other atrocities for centuries, including the collective deportation to the arid Kazakh steppes and to Siberia under Stalin in 1944. They know how to resist, and they know when to wait. Strong by nature, they are able to laugh even amidst adversity, and they sustain a birthrate that repopulates the land and replaces the dead. They know perfectly well that this dictatorial regime will fall sooner or later, as it has in other Muslim countries.«
Read the review by Tom Leininger