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

Bob Odenkirk Mixes Laughter And Law In 'Breaking Bad' And 'Better Call Saul'

The actor's fast-talking, sleazeball character Saul Goodman has been known to bend the law — and to break it. The second season of Better Call Saul begins Feb. 15. Originally broadcast Aug. 6, 2013.
NPR

What The Heck Is Natural Wine? Here's A Taste

Natural wines can be off-putting at first: perhaps darker than usual, a little fizzy or cloudy. Some find them charming, others unsophisticated. Here's a guide to this trending, quirky style of wine.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - February 12, 2016

D.C. Council Member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) joins Kojo and Tom Sherwood to chat about her upcoming fight for re-election.

NPR

Do You Like Me? Swiping Leads To Spike In Online Dating For Young Adults

A study by the Pew Research Center finds the use of online dating sites has mushroomed in the past few years, particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Leave a Comment

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