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Once, as a 15 year old, I sat naked on the edge of the bath covered in piss and vomit after drinking myself silly. Apparently, I told my mum – who was wracked with worry – to “chill out”. I delivered this line with assurance proving how far gone I was; how unable I was to see my pathetic situation and how unable I was to connect with reality.

I don’t remember any of the actual episode (I was too blotto) but the shame and necessary reparations afterward meant I have constructed a memory which feels as visceral as any Proustian recall.

Sergey Maximishin‘s photograph, Sobering Up Station, puts a pit in my stomach.

Sobering-up station, St.-Petersburg, January, 2003. (c) Sergey Maximishin

Sobering-up station, St.-Petersburg, January, 2003. (c) Sergey Maximishin

Sites of incarceration are sites of tragedy. They exist because of the saddening (sometimes necessary) control of pathetic, violent, misunderstood, abusive or abused individuals.

Prisons and jails are architectures of failed human interaction and the friable psychologies of man. Where many folk are fearful of those behind bars, I am generally pitiful.

How many of you have behaved like the “classic drunk”? How many of you have even remembered your foolish confidence? How many of you have still insisted (even down to your underwear) that there’s something to do, other than sleep it off?

Sobering Up Station is a document of failed interaction, of brilliant human inadequacies and of all the unavoidable mess that exists (one way and at one time or another) in all of our lives.

Maximishin – Bio: Born in 1964. Grew up in Kerch, the Crimea. Moved to Leningrad in 1982. Served in the Soviet army as a photographer the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. Graduated from Leningrad Politechnical Institute in 1991 with a B.A. in Physics. Worked in the laboratory of scientific and technical expertise in the Hermitage Museum. Graduated from St-Petersburg Faculty of photojournalism in 1998. From 1999-2003 was a staff photographer for the “Izvestia” newspaper. Since 2003, has worked for German agency “Focus”.


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