Essence | Denis Tarasov
The 1990s was a decade of excess for Russia, as a select group of citizens close to the government enjoyed the spoils of a newly privatized economic system. Capitalism exploded in the market place and those citizens, glorified mobsters and mafiosos, relished the cash flows and did what most money-hungry individuals with limited institutional restrictions would do — they started killing people to preserve their wealth.
Its been nearly two decades since the so-called Mafia Wars began in Russia and its neighboring states, but it’s almost impossible to forget the specific mixture of decadence and violence that reigned supreme. One need only to trek through a local graveyard to wax nostalgia and remember the days of kneecapping and protection rings. The extravagant tombstones that lay untouched in cities like Yekaterinburg, Russia and Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine stand as monuments to the tumultuous period.
Photographer Denis Tarasov has set about documenting these strange relics of yore; intricately engraved tombstones that depict the deceased they way they wish to be remembered — whether they’re straddling expensive cars, enjoying fine alcohol or modeling their favorite leather vest. His series, “Essence,” showcases the bizarre phenomenon of modern culture, one that celebrates material wealth in the face of death.
A part of him knew that the arc of his self-destruction was glaringly obvious to his customers, who grew steadily fewer, but that same part of him basked in the knowledge that it was only a matter of time.
Close-Up Portraits of Rare Bengal Tigers
As founder of The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), exotic animal trainer Dr. Bhagavan Antle has a unique opportunity to come face-to-face with a number of Bengal tigers on a daily basis. As a result of this direct contact, he has developed an extensive portrait series of the incredibly powerful animals extremely up-close.