September 01, 2015

Soviet Bus Stops



Soviet Bus Stops
Aristak-Bab, near Aralsk, Kazakhstan

In 2002 I decided to ride my bike from London to St. Petersburg, with the challenge of taking one good photo every hour. The subject didn’t matter, as long as it was interesting. Those 3000 kilometers across Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia forced me to notice details: graffiti, smokestacks, gardens, clothes on clotheslines, people waiting for the local bus. Those long roads were the start of my obsession.

In 2003 I moved to Almaty, Kazakhstan, and for three years I explored the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The stereotypes were all there: concrete apartment blocks, generous vodka shots, towering statues of Lenin. But so were the eccentricities that defied the Soviet conventions. In Canada, where I come from, bus stops are all the same. But in the former Soviet republics, many were unique, imaginative, and sometimes a bit mad. Each new bus stop I encountered came with its own personality. They made me realize that the Soviet Union can be remembered for more than the clichés we grew up with in the West. Behind the Iron Curtain were millions of individuals who liked to daydream, wanted to push the limits of creativity and needed a way to share it.


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