Elk Island Construction Workers - Moscow

“Every time I went home to my apartment on the outskirts of Moscow, I passed hundreds of waiting construction workers, mostly guest workers from Central Asia, involved in the construction of the ‘Elk Island’ block of flats. One day, I decided to take out my camera and capture the movement of my passage and my view, and to look back.”

For the occasion of the 4th Moscow Biennale, Debby Huysmans stayed in Moscow for a short period at the border of the Elk Island national park.

Debby Huysmans’s (°BE,1980) poetic visual language mostly lends itself to rural, small pieces of marked out landscape. In Elk Island Construction Workers she wonderfully manages to translate her photographic ability to the Russian metropolis. Her landscape appears to grow smaller than before, as if she has succumbed to an inherent need of intelligibility.

A seemingly unequivocal, poetic gesture. Still, again this is poetry with a sting. Shuffling and wavering, the photographer moves closer, subtle variations in the reactions become visible. Like a game, a classic game, between the maker and the portrayed, between intimacy, privacy, social order and gender. Fortunately, sometimes nature interferes, from behind the fence, that red rigorous fence.

Joachim Naudts