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Photographer: Jonas Bendiksen
Publisher: Aperture
Publication date: 2006
Print length: 152 pages
Photographs from the Fringes of the Former Soviet Union. This culmination of a fascinating seven-year photographic journey takes viewers through the countries and enclaves once held in orbit by the immense gravity of Moscow, the nucleus of the Soviet empire. Now each region is on its own in a chaotic political environment, sometimes without diplomatic recognition from neighbors, much less the international community. Abkhazia, an unrecognized country on the Black Sea, was once the natural pearl of the empire, where bellicose generals and productive factory managers came to relax. The spacecraft crash zones between Russia and Kazakhstan reveal a Soviet-inflected version of the entrepreneurial spirit. In Transdniester, a breakaway region of Moldova that survives by functioning as a giant black market for illicit traffic in all manner of goods, from leftover Soviet munitions to bootlegged booze, Bendiksen was expelled on the grounds that he was a "protagonist in an international spy ring." These 62 hauntingly beautiful and often arresting color photographs unsentimentally reveal the often grim circumstances in these half-forgotten regions, uniformly poor and polluted, and often politically unstable. We may not hear much about them today, but we will certainly hear more as the fall of the Iron Curtain continues to reverberate throughout the region.
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