/ Toma Gerzha / Photo story

Control Refresh

Control Refresh is the result of my research into the impact of political events on young people within a number of post-Soviet countries. Over the past three years I visited teenagers in remote cities in Russia and Eastern Europe. I made an extensive collection of photos of youngsters who shared their vulnerability with me, who joined me in their boredom and who told me about their dreams. The lives of these young people are strongly influenced by traditions, social media and politics.

In 2021, I made my first major photography trip across Russia. I contacted teenagers in small towns through social media and spent days (and sometimes weeks) with them. I documented their lives and surroundings with my camera. Took notes and wrote down their stories. My project was interrupted by the Russian invasion in Ukraine in 2022. I decided to include the change within my research and continued to visit my protagonists regularly.

Travelling and making images in a country like Russia became increasingly difficult, each time I didn’t know if I would be able to return to the Netherlands again, as the country was closing itself off more and more from the rest of the world.

By the end of 2023, I had built up a collection of stories of youngsters in Eastern Europe, recording how their lives and choices are affected by political decisions in their countries. Without realising it, I created a time document of my own. In it, I record how a free country closes itself off from the world within a short time and how its inhabitants try to adapt to the changes.

Toma Gerzha (Moscow, 2003) is an Amsterdam-based documentary photographer and multimedia artist. She explores stories related to the mentality of Eastern Europe, the insider-outsider perspective and party culture as the ultimate remedy. Last year, her works were shown at the Biennale de l’Image Possible, Paris Photo, Encontros da Imagem, and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She is now crowd-funding for her first photobook.