Award of Excellence

Dark Sites

Mikhail Lebedev


This project focuses on drug related crimes in Russia and the darknet influence on this process. For shooting I've used broken camera, which deforms images. In my opinion, this visual way discloses relations between the darknet and us. The Internet casts its invisible shadow over our real world. Also this visual approach accorded well with traditions of documentary photography. On one hand I don't develop my photos, on the other hand it invites us to think about the nature of the photographic images. The darknet and a digital camera have one origin — binary code. In Russia, 25-50 percent of prisoners are serving sentences for drug-related crimes. There are two major factors for that. Firstly, drugs are easy accessible today. We have witnessed a technological revolution in this area of crime. You can buy all kinds of drugs on online marketplaces in the darknet. All you need to have is Smartphone and Tor browser. Secondly, the situation is complicated by extremely repressive legislation. Even for possession of a small amount of drugs, a person can get a prison sentence of up to 10 years. I have shot people who have had sentences for drug-related crimes. I also have shot the urban landscape, the places where dealers hide "bundels" the most often.

Lebedev Mikhail is a documentary photographer and photojournalist from St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2019 he graduated from School of Modern Photography Docdocdoc (Saint – Petersburg). He works as a photographer and film director. The most important part of his professional life is personal projects. He is inspired by: hidden communities, progress and its consequences.

[ CULTURAL PRACTICES ] A set of photographs that increases the understanding and appreciation of a cultural practice. It can be about festivals, religion, traditions, or contemporary cultural trends. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.

Judges for Cultural Practices
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung