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A Bowlful of Kumis (2017-2022)

Since the Soviet Union's collapse, Kyrgyzstan has seen a rise in Kyrgyz ethno-nationalism. This shift has led to interethnic tensions in areas like the Fergana Valley, where Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Uzbeks have clashed, notably in 2010 and more recently over issues like water and border disputes. Minorities, including Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, and Dungans, face systemic discrimination as the government adopts a stronger ethno-nationalist stance. For instance, Zahid, an Uzbek, notes that his children could never aspire to high government positions in the current climate.


Despite being a multi-ethnic state with rich cultural heritage, Kyrgyzstan grapples with a complex post-imperialist legacy, where lines between division and unity are often blurred, impacting everyday life in ways that are not always apparent. My seven visits to Kyrgyzstan between 2017 and 2022, coupled with thorough field research, interactions, and friendships, have informed a visual representation that steers clear of absolute factual narratives. Instead, the imagery presents fragments underpinned by a sense of hope, openness and optimism, against the backdrop of a history marked by unfulfilled promises and corruption.

This is over half a decade’s worth of bearing witness to people putting on shoes like watching a glacier move. This journey began in my father's workplace, which became not just my own workspace but a space for self-reflection and understanding.Through the camera, I have sought to build connections and understanding, using kinship and reciprocity to explore the nuances of everyday life and the blurred line between division and unity.This project is an exploration as much as it is a meditation. My aim is to unravel the commonplace, capturing the essence of human connections thanks to the trust and patience in the context of a slower process. 

Such questions become starting points, where the quotidian can be unpicked and contemplated; to capture a feeling, to convey the bond that occurs off camera. How does one encompass it all and depict such complexity and nuance with tranquility, dignity and respect, without exaggerating the tragedy nor undermining it?

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