Postcards from the Black Sea

The Sea

"I did this road trip couple of months after being in Libya, where I ended up after pushing the limits and finding out that I wasn't a war photographer and did not want to be one. I tried to reconcile with myself photographically; it was kind of a therapeutic trip".

Black Sea Postcards, the latest project from nomad photographer Mathias Depardon, is an ironic collection of social and political contradictions, of absurd and iconic images from the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Depardon's essay traces the visual scars of past eastern European conflicts, of an unadorned daily life, of diminished prosperity, and reveals the fragility of a male hero stuck in the past. "Russia and the former soviet countries were still in a transition towards democracy after seven decades of communism", says Depardon. "With money and prosperity now the key focus of their daily lives, many have lost their cultural identity as they strive towards a Western European lifestyle". The Sanatorium is a key site in Depardon's journey. His access to it came through "a Russian lady who had worked there for more than 60 years and who used to translate Italian movies to Gorbachev's wife".

Some of these images suggest the irreverence and frankness of a teenager discovering history.  For Depardon, the photographic process was a reconciliation of his soul: "There is just more of me in every single one of these images...It's not just about illustrating reality, as you would do reporting on a conflict, or on a more serious assignment".

The photo most expressive of this project's lyrical search and documentary style may be the last in the series. Its caption reads: "Oceanfront on the beach of Sukhum capital of Abkhazia, disputed region on the Black Sea. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s". The image: a broken, yellow plastic chair in spring, facing away from the sea.


Mathias Depardon born in 1980 in France. Mathias was raised between France, Belgium and the US. After studying Social Communication and Sociology in Brussels, Mathias briefly joined the Belgian national newspaper Le Soir before devoting himself to reportage and feature work. Mathias was until recently part of the emerging talent at Getty Reportage. He is now a contributing photographer at Getty Images. He won the Bourse du Talent in 2011 for his reportage " Beyond The Border".  His photographs are included in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.