For the founders of fashion-activism label Kultrab, 2020 has already been a challenging year. As well as facing a pandemic, Alina Muzychenko and Egor Eremeev have faced financial crisis and the intensifying conservatism of Russian society. Their response to this creeping sense of isolation was a new collection — I want to hug you but I can’t — and an editorial project, Black Sea Coast Mutation, created together with photographer, artist and filmmaker Sasha Chaika.
“We wanted to tell a story about how people, tired of loneliness, confined spaces, fear of causing diseases, injustice and powerlessness, flee the cities,” Muzychenko and Eremeev told The Calvert Journal. “Alone with nature, they start noticing damages inflicted by humanity. This results in a mutation: man and the natural world he has destroyed begin to merge, kickstarting a new stage of evolution. It’s a story about returning back to nature, about reinventing oneself, about dystopian and post-apocalyptic beauty, about adapting to the new ways of living.”
The result is a surreal and atmospheric visual journey into the future, where young modern-day Russians undergo physical and spiritual changes on the desolate shore. Environmental awareness is at the core of the project: it raises the issues of insufficient water supplies in Russian areas such as Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik, oil spills in the Black Sea, and its impact on local flora and fauna. As part of the project, Kultrab interviewed eco-activists working on conservation and dolphin rescue in Russia’s Krasnodar region.
I want to hug you but I can’t meanwhile, continues Kultrab’s exploration of Russia’s social issues through fashion and photography – following I Love Myself which gave a platform to LGBTQI+ and I Do What I Want which featured the new generation of Russian activist and free-thinking creatives.
Discover more about the project here.