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Agence VU - Davide Monteleone
Davide Monteleone

Italian, born in 1974. Member of the Agence VU’ since 2017.
Lives and works between Italy and Russia.

Davide Monteleone has quickly become a journalist and photographer, thus abandoning an engineering curriculum. He studied both topics in England and Italy before settling in Moscow as a press correspondent from 2001 to 2003.

Davide Monteleone has been living in between Russia and Italy since 2003, working both on assigned reportages and on long-term personal projects. In the latter, he addresses the issues of conflictual relationships between individuals and state power in post-soviet Russia. In 2007, he published his first book, Dusha, Russian Soul. Following were La Liena Inesistente in 2009, Red Thistle in 2012, Spasibo in 2013 and The April Theses in 2017.

He is a laureate of several World Press Photo Awards, the Leica Oscar Barnak Price, the Carmignac Price for Photojournalism, the Aftermath Award and the European Publishers Award for Photography.

  See the photographer's map...


North Korea, from Pyongyang to Rason (2019)

Several time a month, a train go through North Korea from Pyongyang, the capital, to China and Russia border, in the coastal city of Rason. Davide Monteleone took this train to photograph the everyday life of inhabitants and the little-known landscapes. Travel from Pyongyang to Rason is an opportunity to discover a more authentic facet of the country. Behind train window, landscapes go by : verdurous valleys and hills, undamaged forests, harvested fields, immaculate coastlines, akin their wild state. Few modern buildings punctuate this view. The inhabitants work the land or ride their bike. As for the train, it remains rudimentary, although it is kept in good condition to meet the needs...

Harraga’s traces in Lampedusa (2018)

The island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Sicily, is one of the main entry points for migrants who leave the North African coasts in makeshift boats to try to find refuge in Europe. They are nicknamed "Harraga", "those who burn" (papers, borders, laws). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the recent closing of ports decided by the Italian government has led to a significant increase in the number of migrants sent back to Libya. Between 21 and 28 June, 2,425 of them were intercepted during rescue operations at sea and then returned to the African continent. Between January and June 2018, the number of people who drowned in the Mediterranean on these...

The Sino-Russian border, an uncommon relationship (2018)

The world's most populous country and the world's largest country, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, share a common border. The Sino-Russian border is one of the longest in the world, over 4300 km long, and stretches from eastern China to North Korea. Over the years, and since the Tsarist times, relations between China and Russia have walked a tightrope between friendship and war. Just recently, Russia is angling itself to become the main supplier of oil and gas for its energy-strapped Asian neighbors. Trade has increased sixfold over the past decade. Last year they trumpeted the biggest gas deal in history. There's no question that the Ukraine conflict has led Russia...

A new Silk Road (Kazakhstan) (2018)

As the world's leading economic power, the People's Republic of China, through its President Xi Jinping, launches in 2013 the Yi Dai Yi Lu Initiative ("Belt and Road Initiative"), a gigantic investment programme in road, rail and maritime infrastructure to be built in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Between nostalgia for past imperial grandeur and desire to open up China to contemporary globalization, this large-scale project aims to revive the mythical "Silk Road" opened under the Hans dynasty, and the commercial dynamics between Europe and Asia that it allowed between the 2nd BC in the 15th century AD. Today, the new silk roads, which will have to...

A new Silk Road China) (2018)

As the world's leading economic power, the People's Republic of China, through its President Xi Jinping, launches in 2013 the Yi Dai Yi Lu Initiative ("Belt and Road Initiative"), a gigantic investment programme in road, rail and maritime infrastructure to be built in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Between nostalgia for past imperial grandeur and desire to open up China to contemporary globalization, this large-scale project aims to revive the mythical "Silk Road" opened under the Hans dynasty, and the commercial dynamics between Europe and Asia that it allowed between the 2nd BC in the 15th century AD. Today, the new silk roads, which will have to...

The Putin generation (2018)

Their names are Lera, Mikhail, Vladislav or Ekaterina. They are Russian, are between 18 and 19 years old and went to vote for the first time during the presidential election which renewed Vladimir Putin at the head of the country for a fourth mandate. Whether they chose or not to vote for the strong man of the Kremlin, he has been the only true leader of the country since they were born. « I think these elections are pretty useless. Nothing’s gonna change. We’ve got a certain political caste, and they won’t step down until they die. » explains Lera Zinchenko, a 18-year-old Muscovite who dreams of becoming an actress. While for some there is no real political stake in Russia, others...

Yamal, the edge of the earth (2018)

The remote Yamal Peninsula, whose name means “the edge of the earth”, stretches from the Northern Siberia to Kara’s sea, beyond the Arctic Circle. In this large region live the Nenets, one of the greatest nomadic people among the 26 ethnic groups from this Russian province. This people lifestyle is organized on the seasons rhythm and on their migratory flows following ancient roads. However, since a few years, the global warming leads to the permafrost melt, a situation with awful consequences on the Nenets people… Indeed, this melt enables oil deposit and gas exploitation on the land, but the erected structures impact the nomadic people migration. Without any migration, the Nenets are...

The April Theses (2017)

On the 7th of April 1917th, the Pravda publishes « The April Theses » by Lenin, who after 10 years exiled, undertakes his return to his homeland. With the German authorities’ help, who were at war against Russia, the revolutionary Bolshevik’s Party leader crossed by train Germany, Sweden and Finland to Saint-Petersburg. He calls the people to overthrow the provisional government set up after the February Revolution and Nicolas II abdication. Lenin exposes his April Theses, a strategy that 6 months later, leads to the October Revolution and to the Bolshevik empowerment. Lenin takes the leads of a country that covers more than 15% of the whole world surface area with 160 million people....

Spasibo (2013)

“Chechnya has won, Russia has won”. The losers are undoubtedly the many Chechens who chose to go into exile as a matter of honor. Those who stayed have returned to a normal life: their basic needs are satisfied after decades of food shortage. However, this “normal” demands important compromises and entails very often, submissiveness, discretion and silence. For those who want a job, a house and a humdrum life, there’s no other way. Into a slump that seems comforting, authorities have everything under control and granting favors as they please. The physical violence so prevalent in the post-conflict years, the kidnappings and the summary executions also seems to have decreased. Nowadays,...

Red Thistle (2011)

Chechnya, South Ossetia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Dagestan and so on: Davide Monteleone has travelled for several years across the North Caucasian states, a large region impacted by the URSS fall, and object of major geostrategic issues. During 4 years, he has testified the way the conflicts and the disruptions of the XXth century have haunted a region already deeply divided by ethnical and religious divergences. He has shared there the local people’s life and reveals in a same movement these men and wen history and the Caucasian History. Between daily life, reminiscence of private tragedies and memory of collective dramas, his pictures reflect the difficulty in keeping living normally when...


In The Russian East

For this project Davide Monteleone was inspired by the work of Richard Avedon "In the American West" a masterpiece of the history of photography.
Monteleone wanted to emulate the great American photographer by returning, with a similar photographic language, a choral portrait of the Russian social fabric. Going towards the remote eastern borders of the nation, where nationalist echoes resonate weakly, showing us the human face of a multi-faceted and unstructured Russia, with its geography too extended, its multitude of cultures, its complex social dynamics and its incessant changes.

Edition of 200

Publisher: Spaziergang (2019)
32 pages
Size: A5 format  

The April Theses

"In March 1917, Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov (Lenin), leader of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party left his exile in Zurich. Eight months later, he assumed the leadership of 160 million people occupying one-sixth of the world’s inhabited surface. On April 9th 1917, with the support of German authorities, at war with Russia at the time, he travelled back to his own country on a train across Germany, Sweden and Finland to reach Finland Station in St. Petersburg on April 16th where, after a decade in exile, he took the reins of the Russian Revolution. One month before, Czar Nicholas II had been forced from power when Russian army troops joined a workers’ revolt in Petrograd, the Russian capital. In a bullet point document, known as "The April Theses", Lenin called for the overthrow of the Provisional Government and outlines the strategy which, within seven months, will lead to the October Revolution and bring the Bolsheviks to power. 100 year later, I created a chronology of two weeks of Lenin's life just before the events that changed Russia and the entire world. In search of the original draft of “The April Theses”, I recreated and sometimes reenacted, on a real non-invented trip, Lenin’s epic journey inspired by the archival documents I found at the R.G.A.S.P.I. (Russian State Archive of Soviet Political History) and historical books including “To Finland Station” by Edmund Wilson and “The Sealed Train” by Michael Pearson. The final work is a collection of contemporary landscapes, forensic archival photographs and staged self-portraits which retrace a journey in space and time."
Text by: Davide Monteleone

Publisher: Edizioni Postcart (2017)
112 pages
Size: 16,8 x 23,6 cm  


Today Chechnya is an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation, subdued and pacified by force after centuries of rebellion against Moscow. Putin protégé president Ramzan Kadyrov holds absolute power and has almost limitless support from Moscow. "Davide Monteleone is well acquainted with the complex, tormented life of ordinary Chechens. He has crisscrossed the country, stopping in cities and villages, mountains and forests. This book contains neither majestic city- or country-scapes nor bloodspattered depictions of violence. Monteleone rather shows us the otherwise invisible: the stifling atmosphere, the regnant helplessness and fear, the young women resigned to their fate, and the elderly, whose traditional authority has diminished in the face of Kadyrov's brutes. But Monteleone's photographs also depict hope. Chechens are a mountain people who have endured wars and other atrocities for centuries, including the collective deportation to the arid Kazakh steppes and to Siberia under Stalin in 1944. They know how to resist, and they know when to wait. Strong by nature, they are able to laugh even amidst adversity, and they sustain a birthrate that repopulates the land and replaces the dead. They know perfectly well that this dictatorial regime will fall sooner or later, as it has in other Muslim countries." Galia Ackerman Davide Monteleone (b. 1974) started his career in 2000, when he became an editorial photographer for the Contrasto agency. The next year he moved to Moscow as a correspondent. This decision determined his ensuing career. Since 2003, Monteleone has lived between Italy and Russia, pursuing long-term personal projects. He published his first book Dusha, Russian Soul in 2007, followed by La Linea Inesistente in 2009, and Red Thistle in 2012. His projects have brought him numerous awards, including various World Press Photo prizes and several grants like "Aftermath" and the European Publisher Award. Recently, alongside the projects Monteleone has carried out or leading international magazines, foundations, and cultural institutions, he has been involved with exhibiting his work, teaching, and shooting short films. Since 2011 Davide has been a member of VII Photo. In 2009, Carmignac Gestion broadened its corporate sponsorship activities to include support for photojournalism. Under the leadership of Nathalie Gallon, the Foundation annually finances an in-depth photo reportage on a topic directly connected to current affairs: The Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award. The first awards went to photographers covering the Gaza Strip, Pashtunistan, Zimbabwe, and Chechnya. Iran is the subject for 2013.
Text by: Galia Ackermann, Masha Gessen

Publisher: Kehrer Verlag (2013)
164 pages
Size: 24 x 28 cm  

Chardon rouge

"In this inaccessible and inhospitable land, enclosed between two seas, Monteleone has found his theme. A scrupulous narrator, he follows the line drawn by 'concerned photography.' and by linking images he constructs a narrative of places and people. . . .Each image in this book contains a complex story in which the photographer plays the difficult role of being a witness of events and the guardian of memory, weaving together the stories of the Caucasus and the stories of these men and women."—Renata Ferri

Red Thistle is a powerful and fascinating exploration of the important but relatively unknown region of the Northern Caucasus and its people. It lies between the Black and Caspian Seas and is within European Russia (Chechnya, South Ossetia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Dagestan, etc.). Wars have been fought here for centuries—the most recent in Chechnya. Monteleone examines the stubborn, rebellious culture of this region, which although part of Russia, differs in the ethnicity, religion, and social customs of its inhabitants.

Nine beautiful and moving short stories by writer Lucia Sgueglia introduce each section of the book and reflect on elements of daily life and the experience of conflict within the region.
Text by: Lucia Sgueglia

Publisher: Actes Sud Editions (2012)
200 pages
Size: 30 x 24 cm  

Dusha, Russian Soul

This books sets out to describe Russia's heart and soul (Dusha). Between 2002and 2007, Davide Monteleone travelled across many ex-Soviet republics, capturing the melancholy, joy, and solitude of Russian people. That famous spirit, imperceptible and indefinable, is revealed iconographically and poetically in this series of photographs that are distant yet intimate at the same time.
Text by: David Monteleone

Publisher: Postcart Edizioni (2007)
128 pages
Size: 22 x 5 x 22 cm  


    2017 - Winner CodiceMIA, MIA Fair, Milano

    2016 - Fellowship Asia Society, ChinaFile

    2014 - Best Book of the Year, Paris Photo wtih "Spasibo"

    2014 - PDN Best Book Award 2014

    2014 - The Kraszna-Krausz Foundation best book award

    2013 - Fondation Carmignac Photojournalism Award

    2013 - 2nd prize POY multimedia

    2012 - 3rd prize Lead Award

    2012 - Epea grant, “Harragas"

    2012 - Awaking award Tehran art project.

    2012 - European Publisher Award

    2011 - "Follow your convictions grant" Maurice Lacroix"

    2011 - 2nd Art single World Press Photo

    2010 - Aftermath Project Award

    2010 - Lumix Freelens Award

    2010 - Emerging Photographer

    2010 - 2nd Sony World Photography Awards

    2009 - Leica Oskar Barnak Award

    2009 - 1st General news stories, World Press Photo

    2008 - 2nd prize best book, IPA Award

    2008 - 1st General news, IPA Award

    2008 - Best book, FotoGrafia-Book Award

    2007 - TAF prize, LuccaDigitalFotoFest

    2007 - 1st Spot news stories, World Press Photo

    2005 - 2nd Prize Amilcare Ponchielli


The April Theses, In The Russian East (Milano)
From 2017-11-16 to 2017-11-29

During the Photo Vogue Festival in Milan (15-19 November 2017) Davide Monteleone will show two recent projects \"In The Russian East\" and \"The April Theses\" in an exhibition curated by Heillandi Gallery.

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