Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kazakhstan - 13 Years Ago

I spent the summer of 1998 living in Kazakhstan. I worked with university students studying English, and traveled the Trans-Siberian and Silk Road railway systems from the capital of Almaty to the Siberian city of Semipalatinsk, known both for it's Cold-War nuclear testing site and the exiled home of Dostoevsky.

There isn't enough film in the world to do justice to this place that changed my life so much. These are pictures that, for me, at least come close. Many are of people I knew, or captured a mood or feeling that seemed to embody the cities and the people. At the time, it was a place that was beautiful and tragic and hopeful all at once. I don't expect it would be the same today. So much has changed, and I would probably find it unrecognizable. In a way, I never came back from that trip, and most what you see here isn't around to go back to anymore... But to me, that's the most properly Russian experience of it I could imagine.

These were all shot on film, and I see them, collectively, as defining indicators of the direction my eye would go ever since this time. The aesthetic preferences and compositional decisions I was forming with these has stayed with me. Those senses hang with me a little like their subject matter does, defining something for me. I'm incredibly grateful for their influence...
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Suzanne Smith said...

Absolutely stunning!