A reindeer herder on his sled at daybreak near Saranpaul’. Traditional life for indigenous clans is being threatened by booming oil development in the Khanty-Mansiysk region, where the natural resources that support their cultural heritage are in peril. The expansive modernization and economic growth generated by Russia’s oil and gas industry have been a blessing for most of the Khanty-Mansiysk region’s 1.5 million inhabitants, but not all. Roughly 30,000 indigenous people hailing from the area’s Khanty and Mansi tribes still populate the region, but their traditional way of life is quickly disappearing.
In the living room of their small apartment in Zelenograd in the outskirts of Moscow, a dedicated young cosplay couple - he a banker and she an interior designer - act out a cosplay performance. Some people call them “Furries”, however, since they own a variety of costumes Alexandr and Victorya consider themselves cosplayers.
Cosplay, a shortening of the words costume and play, is a performance art during which participants wear costumes, masks, and accessories to depict specific characters. Cosplayers are a subculture who convene at festivals or perform on or apart from stages. The characters stem from comic books and cartoons, live-action films, or video games. Cosplaying initially became a popular culture phenomenon in Japan but has since spread worldwide.
You can view an earlier gallery and see them in a different costume and more cosplayers in Moscow in my feed.
Sometimes the Goddess of Photography has mercy on you and throws you a bone unexpectedly. Following the route of the explorer Vitus Bering, one morning in Tobolsk, Siberia the sun lifted the fog as a lone man crossed the street in the far distance. In 1725, Danish-born navigator, Vitus Jonassen Bering, led two far-reaching naval expeditions devised by Peter The Great to explore the eastern most limits of the Russian Empire, and to establish whether or not America and Asia were separate continents. During his second expedition, known as The Great Northern Expedition, his vessel reached the Alaskan shore but during his return the ship got stranded on one of the Commander Islands. Several of his men perished of malnutrition or scurvy, and Bering himself died on 19 December 1741 on the island that now bears his name, Bering Island – as do many of his other landmark discoveries: Bering Strait, Bering Sea, Bering Glacier, and Bering Land Bridge.
In 1585-1586 during the first Russian advance into Siberia, Tobolsk was founded by Yermak's Cossacks, a famous (and sometimes infamous), resilient and self-reliant culture from which Bering was quick to seek recruits for his arduous expeditions. When Bering landed in Tobolsk in the 1700s, its population was around 10,000 - today its inhabitants near 100,000 - one of whom is here crossing the street on a foggy morning.
International Holocaust Remembrance day. The Holocaust Memorial located near the Brandenburg Gate in the center of Berlin is a city-block-filling maze of solid gray sarcophagi, where visitors can find themselves sunken into lifeless canyons of grief. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold,the enormous sculpture is officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and represents a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. @thephotosociety@natgeocreative@natgeo#Germany#Berlin#Holocaust#memorial#sculpture#PeterEisenman#Jews#tourism
Forty years ago, I went on a journey to the Lower Rhine with Joseph Beuys, one of the world’s most renowned artists of the second half of the 20th century, just before his solo exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. It led us back to Beuys’ origins, back to his roots, into the city of Kleve and its surroundings where his life began. I captured Beuys as he was reconnecting with his past. To him, it was a gaze back into the landscape of the Lower Rhine with its deep horizons and soaring skies - very simple and with depth. Sparse, like his works. Joseph Beuys died 32 years ago, on January 23, 1986. Some of the photos were published in the German weekly “Zeit-Magazin”. However, a corpus of this work remained unpublished and long unseen by the public. A fine art edition of 21 images (available from the @faheyklein gallery) can be seen on my website at http://www.gerdludwig.com/beuys/ @thephotosociety#beuys#art#artist#Kleve#Germany#LowerRhine#hat
This gallery of photographs was taken over several years in various locations in Russia.
Today, on the eve of Russian Orthodox Epiphany, which falls on January 19th (as the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar) thousands of Russians – young and old - prepare to do what they do on Epiphany every year. They gather on frozen rivers and lakes all across their vast country to take a dip in the icy priest-blessed waters. This is believed to cleanse the soul of sins and protect the faithful from evil. According to Orthodox Christian tradition, this January feast day celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
Inside Baiterek in Astana, Kazakstan, visitors place their hand in a golden imprint cast of President Nazarbayev’s right hand, the national anthem sounds and a nearby plaque suggests to make a wish.
Baiterek is the quintessential symbol of Astana, itself alluding to a Kazakh folktale of the mythic bird Samruk and its golden egg, laid high in a poplar tree. The Baiterek monument and observation tower has become the symbol of Astana (see earlier posts) and was supposedly sketched out by President Nazarbayev himself. Astana is a futuristic city that has risen from a forsaken landscape and post-Soviet rubble. In 1997, the small town of Akmola replaced Almaty as capital of Kazakhstan, and subsequently was renamed Astana (meaning "The Capital" in Kazakh). The planned city has exploded in population and is now home to ultramodern buildings and skyscrapers.
Today, Nazarbayev is meeting with Trump in Washington. Nazarbayev has been president since the creation of the office after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. In 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which allows Nazarbayev to seek re-election as often as he wishes. This amendment only applies to Nazarbayev, but subsequent presidents will be restricted to a five-year term.
A doll with a gas mask in an abandoned kindergarten in Pripyat (inside the Nuclear Exclusion Zone). At 1:23 am on April 26, 1986 reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blew up. The radioactive fallout spread over thousands of square kilometers, driving more than a quarter of a million people permanently from their homes. More than 100,000 people may have succumbed to Chernobyl-related illnesses.
In 2011, the Ukrainian government legalized trips to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Chernobyl has since become a disaster-tourism destination.
The most riveting attraction for visitors is the ghost town of Pripyat. Formerly home to almost 50,000 people, Pripyat is now in decay: dolls are scattered in abandoned kindergartens, floors are rotting, paint is peeling from the walls, and gas masks litter evacuated schools.
Three decades later, tourists and guides are creating a bewildering disturbance, as they assemble tableaux to illustrate the flight from disaster. The most repeated motif: a lonely doll neatly arranged with or next to a gas mask. The ever-falling chips of chalk from the ceilings have blanketed some of these “still-lifes,” furthering the illusion for the next visitor that this is how the evacuees hastily abandoned the scene. With so many rearranged scenes—many of the same themes repeated—the uncritical observer may believe these sights to be an authentic representation of the disaster’s aftermath.
You can learn more about Chernobyl from my iPad app and book The Long Shadow of Chernobyl.
In recognition of Russian Orthodox Christmas this Sunday, here is Father Sevastyan meditating on the Gospels at Svyato-Kazansky hermitage, one of many Russian Orthodox communities resurrected across the land (shot on assignment for @natgeo a few years back). After being driven underground by Soviet rule for nearly 80 years, the Russian Orthodox Church has been restored to its former splendor as the center of Russia’s identity — spiritually and architecturally. Like many of the Eastern Christian churches, the Russian Orthodox Church did not make the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. The new calendar was necessary because middle age astronomers had realized that the Julian Calendar was out of sync with the suns trajectory around the earth. The centerpiece of the calendar reform was the omission of the dates between October 5th and October 15th of that year. Consequently, December 25th of the Julian Calendar is January 7th on the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, Eastern and Western Christians celebrate Christmas at different times.
For many years now, I have been photographing a project called “Sleeping Cars.” It all started with this hibernating car that caught my eye in Russia over 10 years ago. Several months later, a friend of mine made an interesting comment while we were stuck in LA traffic - he said, “I wonder where all these cars go to sleep at night.” These moments gave birth to a project about resting cars that developed over the following years. On my dedicated @sleepingcars IG feed, I am posting photographs of sleeping cars from around the world – specifically images that were shot in Los Angeles. Many of these photographs were published in my book, Sleeping Cars, released in 2017 by Edition Lammerhuber. Additionally, some of the photos have been shown in a solo exhibit at the @faheykleingallery in Los Angeles. If you are a car lover, be sure to follow @sleepingcars to keep up with the latest content.
A beech tree forest near my hometown of Alsfeld in the state of Hesse, Germany. Since my early childhood years, hiking through the forests of the Vogelsberg, a volcanic mountain range in the German Central Uplands, made me feel like walking through a winter wonderland.
All dolled up but overwhelmed by her surroundings, a young girl heads to her aunt’s Quinceañera, a coming-of-age rite for Latina girls turning 15. Mexican Americans make up more than 70 percent of Imperial County, the state’s poorest, which borders Southern California’s ill- fated Salton Sea.
After a one-year break, I will resume teaching my Salton See Photography workshop titled The Art of Storytelling in April of 2018. If you want to read more about it go to my fb artist page and follow the link to my website.