|Dorm View, Irkutsk Linguistic University, Siberia, 2008 -- Frank Ward|
Occasionally, in the town squares of many cities in Siberia there is a man selling rides on a bicycle, a drunken bicycle. A conventional two-wheeled bike has been outfitted with a reverse steering gear. If one turns the handlebars right, the front wheel turns left. Of course, the operator demonstrates how easy it is to ride and offers bottles of beer if one can simply travel a few meters without falling. Crowds circle the action, and there is never a shortage of brave young men who attempt the traverse. That said, I have not yet seen a customer navigate the bike successfully.
The drunken bicycle is an apt metaphor for life in the Former Soviet Union (FSU). The bureaucrats appear to be swaying on a drunken bicycle, the hapless traveler spends his days confused by the swing of it, and this photographer is continually under its influence. -- Frank WardTricky to navigate, but Ward does so well and clearly relishes his time in the Former Soviet Union. His images displaying a deep appreciation for and curiosity about the region, and engaging in it, Ward captures what exits on a deeper level. He has described his work as travel writing with a camera, but his images go beyond simply beautifully depicting locals. Ward's keen eye picks out details that make these images evocative of the region's current state. They are impressions of places in a transitional condition where contrasts meet, those junctures providing a distinction that may at times be humorous, and at other times meditative.
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