In the spring of 2019, myself and photographer Pascal Dumont decided to embark on a journey across the Russian Caucasus, covering nine distinct regions in a single trip. We didn’t want to miss out on anything the region had to offer, so we began our trip on the Black Sea and ended it on the Caspian coast, where we had our first taste of the Russian Caucasus two years earlier.
Pascal and I had first travelled to the region in March 2017 to document the lives of local wrestlers in Dagestan and to visit Derbent and its ancient citadel. Our brief trip to the Caspian coast sparked our interest in the broader region. The people we met, the flavours we tasted, and the sights we visited in Derbent had left us in awe.
From Imperial Russia’s conquest of the Caucasus and the resistance orchestrated by Imam Shamil to the two Chechen wars in the 1990s, the region continues to be shaped by complex historical events. Making up only a fraction of Russia’s territory, the North Caucasus is home to a variety of cultures, languages, and distinct local identities. Journeying from the Black Sea to the Caspian, our goal was to learn more about the small albeit strategic region that shares its time zones with Moscow.