A Panorama Of Central Asia | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

A Panorama Of Central Asia

It's not every day that you encounter a photographer based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, let alone one that was raised in Japan, went to school in Missouri and is fluent in Russian. That's Ikuru Kuwajima. Another thing that makes him unique: He often shoots with a panoramic camera.

I came across his work while reviewing photos for the Portland, Ore.-based PhotoLucida Critical Mass program, which exists to help photographers like Kuwajima get exposure.

There was a little statement with the photographs, but for the most part, the captioning was sparse — a lot like the photos themselves. Something about Kuwajima's photos of the big, open steppe of central Kazakhstan really captured my imagination. Many of his images document one family, the Sokolovs, living in a specific region called the Sary-Shagan polygon.

Kuwajima explains that during the Soviet era, more than 60 square miles were devoted to the testing of ballistic missiles. "However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991," he writes, "the majority of the residents, especially nonethnic Kazakhs, left the area that lost much significance and governmental supports."

A few remained, like the Sokolov family, and moved into the abandoned military barracks, making ends meet by fishing and scavenging metal scraps, Kuwajima says.

I asked Kuwajima to share some photos from the Sokolov story — as well as some favorites from his travels throughout Central Asia, where he's been based for two years now.

"I always like the vastness of it," he writes in our correspondence. "I feel relieved when I'm in the steppe, mountains or desert. ... I don't like crowded places very much and am a bit claustrophobic. I can be free from those things in Central Asia, for the most part."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Stephen Hawking Says Zayn Malik Could Still Be In One Direction In A Parallel Universe

Millions of hearts were broken last month when Zayn Malik left One Direction, but according to physicist Stephen Hawking, that might not be the case after all.
NPR

Competitive Bartender Pours Father's Wisdom Into Signature Drink

Bartender Ran Duan will represent the U.S. in a Bacardi international cocktail competition. His specialty? "Father's Advice," a stirred-not-shaken cocktail that's a testament to his hardworking dad.
WAMU 88.5

Warren Weinstein's Death Has Local Lawmakers Debating Drone Policies

Lawmakers in the D.C. region are mourning the loss of Maryland native Warren Weinstein, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. The killing has lawmakers debating drone policies once again.
NPR

How Tech Firms Are Helping People In The Nepal Earthquake Zone

Tech and telecom companies stepped up with much needed services. Facebook and Google offered tools to help those in the region let family and friends know they're OK. Other firms cut calling costs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.