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Photographer's Showcase: Frank Ward -- The Drunken Bicycle

The Photographer's Showcase is pleased to introduce a new portfolio from Frank Ward: The Drunken Bicycle -- Travels in the Former Soviet Union

Dorm View, Irkutsk Linguistic University, Siberia, 2008 -- Frank Ward
The Photographer's Showcase has been fortunate to feature black & white work from Ward's travels in the former Soviet Union in his previous portfolio on the Showcase, and we are excited to now exhibit some of his color images. Color is a striking element in this body of work -- the vibrant reds of a man's shoes and belt, matching the red of the bouquet he clutches in his hand -- the deep blues and pinks of a woman's dress, sitting in a grey crumbling building -- the sharp green of a car on a snowy landscape. The color is an easy draw into this portfolio, but there's much more upon investigation. The title of Ward's project refers to a town event that he has witnessed. He describes it like this:
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 Ward
Tricky 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.

Guard of the Eternal Flame I, Irkutsk, Siberia, 2008 -- Frank Ward
 View Frank Ward's portfolio The Drunken Bicycle on the Photographer's Showcase.

For more information please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202