Yacht Club to Open Photo Exhibit on Expat Life

For MTOne of the five expats that photographer Svetlana Privalova photographed for the exhibition. Frank Ebbe with one of his musical proteges.

Russian photo exhibits rarely look at the lives of foreigners in Moscow, but from Thursday there will be not one but two exhibits of local expats as photographer Svetlana Privalova opens her show, “The Rule of Five Looks.”

The exhibition, at Moscow yacht club Aliye Parusa, shows how five foreigners see Moscow, what their favorite places are and what fascinates them most about living here.

Concurrently, the exhibition “How Do You Do … Moscow” is on at the Moscow Museum of Modern Arts. The project of four expat women, the exhibit is a multimedia show that looks at foreigners living in Moscow.

Privalova, originally from the Samara region, first thought about Moscow’s foreigners as a project when she had to get by as an outsider in Italy.

“When my mother moved to Italy in 2005, I traveled there quite often,” she said, “I don’t speak Italian and hardly anyone there speaks English, which got me thinking about what life must be like for a foreigner in Moscow.”

Carrying this thought in the back of her head for more than three years, Privalova started making plans with her friend and journalist Yekaterina Antoshkina in February.

The two women contacted foreign friends who introduced them to their friends and acquaintances.

“We wanted to spend more than just a day with each of our heroes and definitely wanted to visit their homes to get to know them better,” said Antoshkina.

“I thought the idea was original and I thought ‘why not take part?’” said Thomas Koessler, a chef from Austria, who has lived in Moscow for five years.

Privalova, 23, was taught photography by her camera-mad grandfather and this will be her third photo exhibition. She also freelances for Kommersant. She says her exhibit of 30 black and white photos is very different from “How Do You Do…Moscow.”

“We don’t only have one photo of each person, we characterize them in a whole series of photographs,” Privalova said. “We took about 1,000 photos of each person, from which we then had to choose six.”

Frank Ebbecke from Germany, who works as a journalist and musical producer was one of the first subjects to have his photos taken.

“With only a few photos she managed to capture my personality just right. I mean, I’m holding a glass and a cigarette in almost every photo,” he said laughing.

All the foreigners photographed have lived in Russia for five years or more.

“Before I came here I had a choice between San Diego in America and Moscow, and I thought Moscow would probably be more interesting,” said Koessler. “And I don’t regret coming here.”

“The Rule of Five Looks” opens Sept. 11 and runs until Sept. 24 at yacht club Aliye Parusa, 79/2 Aviatsionnaya Ulitsa,  Bldg 2. Metro Shchukinskaya. www.club-ap.ru