Hold a mirror up to the lives of young people in the suburbs and you’ll be drawing parallels with kids all over the globe. Whether drowning in boredom or finding an outlet for it, through creativity, crime or any other possible way to quell small town frustration – the way youth react to their surroundings has always been fascinating grounds for documentation.
For her latest photo book, photographer Sonya Kydeeva captured 90s youth mentality amongst Moscow’s ‘sleeping districts’, with iconography like sportswear, tattoos, graffiti and diamond-encrusted chains. In a collaboration with video artist Alina Gutkina, the duo were originally asked by Sputnik 1985 to shoot the sportswear brand’s new collection. The project began by riffing off the status of the tracksuit in the 90s – something that became so culturally relevant it led to a surge in the mass production of counterfeit versions that kids bartered for in their local markets and shop fronts. “A whole generation wore these fake costumes because no one had access to originals,” they muse.
The gritty, black and white images are a visual comment on life in the capital’s suburbs. “Here we are talking about the difference between life in residential districts and life in the centre of a city. People define a way of life,” the pair explain. With kids plucked from the skateboarding and street art scenes for the photos, Kydeeva and Gutkina speak on their fascination with millennials. “We both have experience filming a generation born in the 90s. They are the ones who we can look at from the outside, because we are from an older generation. Age plays no role in their behaviour, although it certainly has an important socio cultural role, but, in fact, children and adults are equal in their behaviours and pastimes – in a good sense.” Watch the pair’s short film below.