Photographer: Dmitry Ermakov
Title: Everyone’s at Home
Location: Chekalin, Russia
Period: 05/2020 - 09/2020
Category: Environment

Chekalin is the smallest town in Russia, with less than 900 inhabitants. Before the Red revolution, it was a county center, but then its economic significance disappeared. After the collapse of the USSR, two of the three enterprises were closed.

The town was founded in 1565 as Likhvin. The current name was given in honor of WWII partisan Sasha Chekalin, a member of famous resistance units. The Likhvin period is also full of history connected to Old Russia resistance against foreign invaders. But, living in a place filled with big history, many people don’t realize its value. ‘We are accustomed to the fact that our town is special, so we don’t consider it special, ’ one local man said.

The merchant buildings of the 19th century are in a deplorable state, and many simpler houses are bought up by Muscovites as dachas. Moscow is less than 300 kms away. Many residents close themselves from the outside world with high fences. The streets are usually empty — everyone’s at home. People are full of independence and value personal space too much. They say such a high level of privacy has always been a local feature.

In my research, I put together the faces of Chekalin residents, the nature of the city and its surfaces. All of these are the carriers of unique historical memory, sometimes hidden on the verbal level but still visible.

Vladimir a forester Moved from Crimea to Chekalin in 1990s

Alexander a history reseacher and local ethnographist

Nickolay a music teacher and a military band member A jazz lover

Yury and Gallina farmers

Anna a former school teacher

A WWII partisans photo album found near Chekalin town