It was 15 years after his father's death when Russian artist Alexei Mednoy came back to visit his home in Ratmanikha village in Ivanovo oblast, not far from Moscow. But it didn't look like it once had when it was a prosperous place with 500 houses, full of families who lived off the land and were self-sufficient. He had to walk through a field and cross a small river whose bridge had washed out years ago, as there is no road to the village now. Finding silent and empty houses that were slowly falling down amid overgrown fields, he decided to "repopulate" them with portraits of people who once lived there, painted from photographs, and their chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, and cows. He painted his pictures on plywood and nailed them to buildings, showing the contrast between the rich life of the past and today's empty village. His unusual art project captured a disappearing way of life; there are more than 600 abandoned villages in Ivanovo oblast.

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