Russians Find the Stories Hidden in Photos of Decay

Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

There's a community on the Russian social network Vkontakte that takes photos of rust, peeling paint, and decay, and reimagines them as “abstract stories.” The creator and sole editor, a man named Sergei Vyskub, invites anybody to join his group and submit photos with ideas about what stories might be contained therein. “Every masterpiece has its own story. Look around and tell us yours,” he tells visitors to his page on Vkontakte.

Vyskub told the website that he first got the idea for the project when looking at photographs of peeling plaster that reminded him of a statistical chart. His friends helped him attract his first subscribers, sharing “abstract stories” in their own Vkontakte groups. The idea caught on, and some communities on the site with followers in the millions started sharing his work (not always with accreditation).

Though his group's work doesn't always get cited, its rise in popularity has been meteoric. The first post on Vyskub's community is dated February 9. In just two weeks, there are now more than 16,000 subscribers. Members can submit pictures with or without suggested “stories,” and Vyskub populates a photo album with submissions that still need interpretations.

“Abstract Stories” isn't Vyskub's only Vkontakte community. He runs another photo project called “Bus Stops,” where he collects pictures of bus stops throughout Russia. He says he has no plans to try to monetize either community (by selling advertisements, for instance). Both projects are a “labor of love,” he told TJournal.

The Dead Sea. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

The St. Petersburg skyline. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

When you forgot to clean the fish tank. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

Finding Nemo. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

“Congratulations! You're having a boy.” Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

The Hedgehog in the fog. (An allusion to the award-winning 1975 Soviet animated film by Yuriy Norshteyn.) Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

The launch of ballistic missiles. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

The album cover of “Animals” by Pink Floyd. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

Eugene the Moth. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

The annual celebration of redheads in Ireland. Photo: Abstract Stories / Vkontakte

For more photos and their “abstract stories,” visit the Vkontakte community here.

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