Jonas Bendiksen - Satellites - photography of unrecognised states

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I recently saw Satellites, an exhibition of photography by Jonas Bendiksen at the PM House & Gallery in Ealing.

Satellites is about states that do not actually exist, particularly those in the former Soviet region. When the USSR broke up in the 1990s, 15 'new' countries emerged. However, political and ethnic tensions also led to a number of less well-known and unrecognised states, such as Abkhazia and Transdniester.

Bendiksen spent seven years journeying in these places, culminating in an amazing set of photographs.

I especially liked the photos which showed solitary individual figures set in huge, vast landscapes, like these below. The first shows a little girl (you can barely see her) amongst large Soviet-style buildings. The second shows Tanya, a babooshka, outside large Soviet blocks of flats.

The impression was of these small, unrecognised nations trying to find their way amongst big super-powers and massive international and global structures.

Equally fascinating, and on the same theme, were his images of local people in the area where rockets and spacecraft are crashed in the Kazakh steppe. Locals here pillage the craft for scrap. Again, they seem like solitary people getting by in vast structures.

The exhibition continues until 9 August. Satellites is also available as a book.