A Bowlful of Kumis (2016-ongoing)

 

I was once told, knowing somebody for ten years or ten minutes can have equal meaning, and that those relationships are equally important. I say hello, bonjour, privet, salam-malekoum. I look people in the eye. I listen, I respond. I sit down, we break bread. We drink tea. I ask questions. I show love. I show respect. We smile. We laugh. We argue. I’m not a missionary. I don’t act like I know best or represent a society that does. This always comes first, before any photograph is made, taken, constructed, captured or created. Following seven trips to Kyrgyzstan between 2016 and 2022, alongside both extensive field research, discussions and readings, this visual amalgamation attempts to refrain from any documentative purity. This is over half a decade’s worth of bearing witness to people putting on shoes like watching a glacier move. As much an observation as it is a meditation. As much my father’s workplace, who works as a human rights advisor, as it became my workplace, as a photographer.

 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyz areas of the Fergana Valley have been subject to interethnic clashes, mostly between Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks. In 2010, there were violent clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Osh and Jalalabad. In 2021, allocation of water via old canal systems fueled a new conflict in the Batken region between Tajiks and Kyrgyz. Minorities such as Uzbeks and Tajiks can be subject to discrimination. These events, tainted by a post-imperialist former Soviet landscape, are reshaping these regions in relation to everyday life, such as a rise in nationalist sentiment via government action. 

 

 The camera is an opportunity to reach out via kinship and reciprocity. Where is the line between division and unity? What does everyday life look like with this backdrop? How can anti-sensationalist visual narratives address such contentions that encompass its nuances? These questions become starting points for the image-making, where the everyday, collective memory and history can be unpicked.