St Petersburg is celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2003. A few years ago it was a city in transition, gripped by waves of disintegration. Today, it impresses with a new metropolitan face; the historical centre has been renovated, showing off stunning churches, palaces, museums and shopping streets.
Yet in the backyards of Nevsky Prospect, the main shopping street in the city centre, and behind huge advertisement boards that hide major construction sites, traces of a different world can be found. The countless needles that litter hidden corners and staircases are witness to a world behind the façade.
The staircases, attics and roofs of the buildings are home to the street kids. Each of them has a story of his or her own, telling of an escape from a desolate family, ignorant parents or the appalling conditions of youth detention centres. All they seek is a place to sleep, where to dull their pain they can consume drugs, sniff glue or shoe polish, known locally as Karat, or receive a client if they make their money from prostitution.
As St Petersburg seeks to clean up its image before the world’s media descends on the city for the anniversary celebrations, and with little or no social support available, the 30-40,000 estimated street children are being driven out of their makeshift ‘homes’ into detention centres.
18-year-old Nadja lives on the street. She left home because her parents were drunk all the time and bought no food. "In the past I dreamt that someone would love me, but it never happened. Today, I only wish I had a gun to put to my head," she says.
Karat by German photographer Wolfgang Müller appears in Vol.1 No.4 of EI8HT photojournalism, published on 1 February. It extends the magazine’s reputation for publishing challenging, socially aware photojournalism.
Also in the current issue we explore: the youth of the Balkans, who seek to build a better future on their own terms from the devastation of a decade-long conflict in their homelands; Nenets, reindeer-herding nomads, who live in the wildnerness of Russia’s Yamal Peninsula on the Arctic Circle; the journey taken by a travelling cinema, Kinobuss, in Estonia; ultimate fighting in London’s East End; and sea wall defences in England. Plus an extract from Wendell Steavenson's acclaimed book Stories I Stole.
In conjunction with the original online journal www.foto8.com, EI8HT photojournalism creates a platform to display important and inspiring photojournalism to a wider audience.
EI8HT photojournalism is published quarterly and is available either by annual subscription (from £26.80 / ¤46.00) or by single copy, priced £8, from selected newsstands and bookshops in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Bristol, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London, Manchester and Paris.
Editor’s notes: Wolfgang Müller’s photo story, Karat, is available for publication. To enquire about image usage, in the first instance, contact Gordon Miller below.
Jon Levy, editor
Gordon Miller, publisher
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London W1W 8QP
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