Traversing scattered and unrecognized mini-states, along with other isolated communities, Jonas Bendiksen explores the southern borderlands of the former U. Jonas Bendiksen. The Soviet collapse spawned 15 new countries that are now established members of the international community. However, economic, political and ethnic disparities also gave birth to a series of lesser known unrecognized republics, national aspirations, and legacies. Satellites is a photographic journey through the scattered enclaves, unrecognized mini-states, and other isolated communities that straddle the southern borderlands of the former USSR. The itinerary goes through places such as Transdniester, a breakaway republic in Eastern Europe, Abkhazia, an unrecognized country on the Black Sea, the religiously conservative Ferghana Valley in Central Asia, the spacecraft crash zones between Russia and Kazakhstan, and the Jewish Autonomous Region of Far Eastern Russia.
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Satellites: Photographs from the Fringes of the Former Soviet Union is the culmination of Jonas Bendiksen's fascinating seven-year photographic journey through the outlying republics held in orbit by the immense gravity of the Soviet Empire. When it dissolved, in , these satellite states were sent into free space—and uncertain futures.
Many of these outposts are ostensibly state-less states, places where Soviet nostalgia looms large, self-styled brands of capitalism have emerged, where cities are scarred from bloody insurrections, and entire populations have fled in search of better lives. Hauntingly beautiful, these sixty-two arresting color photographs unsentimentally reveal the often grim circumstances in these half-forgotten regions that are uniformly poor and polluted—and often politically unstable.
We may not hear much about them today, but we will certainly hear more from them in the near future as the fall of the Iron Curtain continues to reverberate throughout the region. This book was produced to accompany a traveling exhibition, which opened at the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.
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Behind the Image: Jonas Bendiksen’s Satellites
They are all tiny regions floating in the periphery of Russia or the ex-Soviet bloc countries. They all exercise a certain level of autonomy, but none are recognised as independent under international law. Bendiksen arrived in Russia from his native Norway in at the age of twenty. The history as well as anecdotes and faits divers of all six republics covered in this photographic journey are neatly summarized, each in a short two-page presentation that prefaces the successive series of images. We learn how Stalin created a self-governing Jewish state twenty years before the foundation of Israel. And how the strategic power of Transnistria a state of less than km2 comes from its 50, guns and 40, tonnes of ammunition left by the Soviets.