Moved to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where I hope I will live for a while if not forever. I like it here. I’m working on a project from Kazakhstan’s capital Astana now…
Astana’s Winter Urbanscape
Kazakhsttan’s gleaming, spacious city Astana is the second coldest capital in the world, but the oil and gas money has been heating up the city with the growing nightlife culture scene and modern (or futuristic) buildings including a facility with a small inner tropical resort to attract more businesses and tourists.
I was in Moscow with my Kyrgyz friend, who recently moved to Moscow from Bishkek. He got fired from work and sought a new opportunity in Moscow. But, he couldn’t find the work he wanted and couldn’t afford one room apartment with his wife. When I met him in Moscow, he invited me to come to his place, and it turned out that the place was full of immigrant workers, sharing one room with 3 to 10 people. They were mostly immigrant workers from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. “That’s how we live,” said many of the residents. I felt as if I came back to Kyrgyzstan, as they speak Kyrgyz language, cook their food and listen their music. It’s not something new about immigrants from central Asia in Moscow, but after the violence and revolution in Kyrgyzstan, there are more coming, but a lot of them find out that there is not much work left since there are already so many of immigrant workers.
It’s just is just a beginning, but I’m hoping to keep shooting immigrants in Russia and their families back home.
Astana – The City of Future.
Located in the north-central Kazakhstan, Astana became the country’s new capital in 1998. Since then, the oil rich country has been investing in a number of construction projects around the city. The government led by the country’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev hired renowned foreign architects such as Kisho Kurokawa and Norman Foster for the redesigning of the new capital, and Astana’s past city planner wanted to build a “Berlin” in an Eurasian style. In the in the past years, many gleaming buildings have been spring up in the city while constructions still continue. Yet, the city’s population has not reached 1 million, and the city still appears a little empty at first glance. However, the prosperous city has been attracting a number of new comers in and outside of Kazakhstan and is expected to have further growth in its population. In his speech on the 10th anniversary of Astana on July 5, 2008, President Nazarbayev called Astana, “the symbol of hope and certainty in the future of all our citizens.” The series of photographs show the landscape of this gleaming, unique, blooming capital of Kazakhstan.
Uzbeks neighborhoods suffered most visible casualties during the ethnic violence in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, which lasted several days from the 10th of June, 2010. The ethnic conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks left hundreds of deaths and more than 2,000 houses destroyed in Southern Kyrgyzstan. However, it was earlier estimated that the conflict left about 2,000 dead, and the actual number of casualties are still unknown. While the conflict has calmed down, reconstruction has been slow. Most Uzbeks are staying in their Uzbek neighborhoods for security, and hundreds live in tents in Osh. There have been reports that police and security forces made up of ethnic Kyrgyz have been detaining and torturing Uzbeks in connection with the June violence. International aid agencies have been supporting the construction of temporary houses for those who lost houses, mainly in Uzbek neighborhoods, where a number of houses were torched and looted. However, many Uzbeks fear that the construction may not be able to be completed by the cold winter. Meanwhile, dozens of Uzbeks have been leaving for Russia for security and jobs.
In May, I photographed the ousted president Krumanbek Bakiev’s house burning in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan. A small picture was published in Russian Reporter, and a few more were supposed to be published in some newspaper, but the story got killed due to the ethnic clashes in June… Some people say the arson of the former president’s house was part of the causes for the tragedy in June.
Coming to Kyrgyzstan in May, it seemed peaceful, and I thought everything would be fine after the revolution. So, I was traveling around to find some story ideas. Then, some minor clashes happened in the south in May. Took some pictures there. Again, it calmed down, so I was going to work on some projects. Then, the huge clashes broke in Osh and Jalalabad. And, everything went crazy. The perception on Kyrgyzstan changed internationally and for myself. I’m sort of starting from scratch again… These are the pictures taken after the revolution and before the June clashes.
New blog – not because I moved to Kyrgyzstan from Ukraine. It’s just because blogspot doesn’t work in the server in Bishkek, which gets cables from the neighboring country… Sad to be away from Ukraine and Eastern Europe in general, but that’s life. Those pics are some outtakes in the past year in Ukraine. Now, I should get back to blogging more often as I don’t have a good excuse anymore. Thanks Kyle for doing this.
About 2000 people were thought to be killed in the recent clashes in the southern Kyrgyzstan. A number of people, especially ethnic Uzbeks lost houses due to arsons and looting, and hundreds, or thousands, of IDPs still don’t know where to move. Worked with Save the Children in Southern Kyrgyzstan. I’ve been based in Bishkek in the past month and will be here for a while.
Trying to catch up with many things… I was in Samara, Russia for a photo project called disorientation. Basically, the idea is throwing 5 foreign photographers into a middle-sized Russian city and letting them photograph whatever while any research on the city is banned. We just had to wander around with a map of “other” city… Nonetheless, Samara turned out to be one of my most favorite cities in the world.