In a small, remote village in the Udmurt Republic of Russia, photographer Lucia Ganieva discovered a wonderful anomaly in home decoration — the interiors of practically every home in the village feature room-size photographic murals of “exotic” scenes, which symbolize the distant places that the home-dwellers will never visit, except in their dreams.

The result, from an outsider's perspective, is a riot of visual clutter. The photomurals are often juxtaposed against the equally jarring colors, patterns and textures of plush sofa blankets and other home decorations.

The Udmurt people are intensely connected to nature, which plays an important role in their daily lives. The photomurals they display often depict dramatic natural vistas from foreign lands. They keep treasured rolls of wallpaper that are too large to be glued to the walls, and they are very proud to show off their decorative wallpaper collections to visitors.

Ganieva provides some context:

"The village where I made my project is situated in an area with many hills, woodlands and near a river. These villages are small, usually one main street along which the houses are built. These are traditional wooden houses. Next to the houses you find a small garden with fruit and vegetables and often some cattle.

"The people living in the houses are normal average families. Parents with their children and, as is usual in Russia, also the grand-parents. Many of the younger people leave the village to study in a big city, and most of them do not return. But part of them also stay in the villages. I have seen the photomurals in practically every house in the village."

Lucia’s approach to documentary photography is heightened by her fine-art sensibility. Lens Culture featured an earlier series that she made in one of the last working textile factories in the town of Ivanovo, some 275 kilometers north-east of Moscow.

— Jim Casper

This project also was exhibited in Paris from February 20 to March 19 at the FETART-Circulations festival of photography by young European artists. The festival was chaired that year by Laura Serani, who served as one the expert reviewers at Lens Culture FotoFest Paris 2010.