Photo Essay: Summertime with the Lord of the East
by Sascha Schilbach
With the city's construction boom dominating headlines these days it is easy to overlook themes and issues that matter to the common resident of Vladivostok. But, despite the road closures, traffic jams, wet concrete and clouds of dust, life in Vladivostok continues. Accounts of marriage celebrations, recreation, music festivals and the daily grind can do more to reveal a city's character than descriptions of the city's economic and infrastructure projects. These pictures focus on a slice of the "daily life" in Vladivostok. I took them during my time spent in Vladivostok on a FLAS Scholarship this past summer.
Advertisements for an international marriage agency
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha1.jpgThe decline of Vladivostok's economy has motivated many local Russians to seek out a life elsewhere. Posted on the back of headrests on a local bus, these advertisements target unmarried Russian women. They promise a "life partner" and pledge to "help you start a family and live abroad."
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha2.jpgVladivostok's central monument to Soviet soldiers lost in the Great Patriotic War (WWII) and famous for displaying a Soviet submarine (background) plays host to a wedding celebration while a young woman strolls by in the foreground. In Russia, a traditional wedding party is never complete without a photo session and merrymaking near their city's Great Patriotic War Monument (background). Remnants of the newlyweds' fun--champagne bottles, ribbons and plastic cups--are often left behind at these sites.
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha3.jpgTo signify their (hopefully) enduring love, newlyweds fasten inscribed locks to a bridge or overlook. These young Russian couples in the background enjoy a beautiful view from the highest hill overlooking Vladivostok's central harbor.
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha4.jpgRussian teenagers mountain bike around an abandoned Soviet military post on a mountain top above Vladivostok.
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha5.jpgVladivostok's home-grown rock stars Mummy Troll (Мумий Тролль) do their thing for a huge crowd at a popular beach outside of Vladivostok as part of a summer concert festival. In the summer months, Vladivostok's downtown empties as residents flock to nearby beaches.
/jsishelp/ellison/sites/default/files/sascha6.jpgSummer afternoons draw crowds of Vladivostok residents out to a lighthouse that marks the entrance to Vladivostok's port. While the city's port works ‘round the clock to unload cargo, passenger and military ships, Vladivostok's residents find time to sunbathe and relax after work.
Sascha Schilbach received his BA in Russian Language and International Studies at Willamette University in 2010. After a stint in Estonia, on Sakhalin Island and in the Crimea, he was thrilled to return to Russia this summer. A recipient of the Summer FLAS Scholarship, Sascha spent the summer studying Russian language at Vladivostok State University of Service and Economics. His academic interests include Russia's foreign policy, Russia's Arctic developments and Russian domestic politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.