PHOTOGRAPHY: THE NEW PLASTIC ROAD
These images reflect the daily life in a remote and isolated society on the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan; at a time and place that it is in evolution.
In August 2011 my partner and I went to Tajikistan for the purpose of making a documentary and to photograph a place that I only knew from our extensive research.
Tajikistan has been the poorest of the former Soviet States but it also has the poorest state of roads with limited external transportation links and with infrastructure weaknesses, which hinder development. It has been a country of conflict and instability. In the last decade a connection to China has been the hope and expectation for prosperous development for Tajikistan, notably for the people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. Unlike the rest of Tajikistan, Badakhshan remains in geographical isolation, almost throughout the year due to snowfalls, landslides and flooding and basic necessities such as food water, electricity are lacking in the area, especially in the town of Murghab, where nothing really grows and nearly all food is imported from the neighboring countries of Kyrgyzstan and China.
China opened her doors to Tajikistan in 2004 by reconstructing the road between Murghab and the Qulma pass on the borders, with the intention of expanding her relations but also to promote commerce between the two countries. However, this new road has brought about the evident physical and social transformation of the region. This sudden change can be seen as a great opportunity for bilateral relations to develop between the two countries, political and economical cooperation, allowing the Chinese economy to attract resources from Tajikistan and the much needed Chinese goods to flow into the Central Asian markets. But it can also be seen as a ‘door’ that has opened up to new social issues.
Consequently, my aim in this project is to explore how the people in this isolated region of Central Asia are affected by this new socioeconomic and political change and to investigate how they perceive their lives today and in the immediate future. At the beginning of my journey I was just a traveller on a very long and rough road but after many treacherous kilometers, I realized how this road is the only connection between these two distinctive cultures, how it has become the bloodline of these people and finally how this international crossroad has the power to affect the rest of the world. Already today, many countries have started to invest in the Pamir region due to this ‘new opening’ with the intention of expanding their developments aiming to enter the global market.
This story is about power, growth and change. Even if life is changing rapidly, a visual silence characterizes the place. That is what I strongly want to portray through my images.