It was in woods behind an apartment building that photographer Dmitry Markov noticed a group of teenagers hanging out on the old couch and rope swing. He was in Pskov, a Russian city close to the Estonian border. Markov had grown up 800km away, in Pushkino, which is just outside Moscow, and as rope-swinging was a pastime he fondly remembered from his own youth, he stopped to take a photo on his iPhone X.
“I grew up in a workers’ settlement in the 80s and early 90s, where plenty of families faced social problems like unemployment and alcoholism,” he says. “Many children were left to their own devices, got into trouble and ended up with juvenile police records.”
Once he reached adulthood, he decided to volunteer at a Russian orphanage where he tutored children, some of whom had neuropsychiatric disorders. “When I began to help children like those I was surrounded by in my youth, with similar backgrounds and records, I began to understand the fragility of life. You climb trees and play in abandoned construction sites without fear. You think you’re immortal. Perhaps that’s what I want to capture in this picture – both courage and fragility.”
While he didn’t speak to these children, he imagines them to be residents of the nearest five-storey buildings – just teenagers killing time together. “They didn’t pay much attention to me,” he adds.