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Sarah Blesener

Beckon Us From Home

The lives of young people in Russia and the USA where patriotism and militarism drive camps and clubs geared towards youths

Patriotic education, often with a military subtext, forms the mainspring of many youth programs in both Russia and the United States. In America, the dual messages of “America first” and ‘Americanism’ can be found not only as a driving force behind adult political movements, but around the country in camps and clubs where young people are taught what it means to be an American. In Russia, patriotic clubs and camps are encouraged by the government. In 2015, President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a Russian students’ movement whose aim was to help form the characters of young people through instruction in ideology, religion and preparedness for war. The ‘Patriotic Education of Russian Citizens in 2016–2020’ program called for an 8 percent increase in patriotism among youths and a 10 percent increase in recruits to the armed forces. Sarah Blesener visited ten youth programs in the US, as well as schools and military summer camps in Russia. The aim of the series is to use these young people and their lives as the focal point in an open dialogue around the ideas instilled in future generations and examine how young people are responding to contemporary society.

Sarah Blesener is an American documentary photographer. She graduated from the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at ICP in New York. She received 1st prize in the World Press Photo's Long-Term Project category in 2019.

ragazzi e ragazze davanti alla bandiera americana
ragazzi in uniforme sdraiati sull'erba