Travels with a camera

Tanya Stephan discovers the photographs of a traveller in the splintered former Soviet Union.

“You have people who go to lndia. You have people who go to Mexico. My goal was to go to Russia.‘ So says photographer Benien van Manen who began her quest in Siberia in 199] intending to capture the first miners’ strike. She had already ventured as a documentary photographer to Nicaragua and Algeria and this new subject was equally newsworthy. But her objective changed. ‘lt was there that i realised that l shouldn't be too

political, i should just live with people. L Domestic setting: a photographic look at life in the interior oi the ex-Sovlet Union i decided that i wanted to show what 7

was not in the newspapers. There were its most private and far-flung comers. . These pictures are raw and often ' says. ‘l found out that this is not true.

a lot ofstories in the papers about from Siberia to Kazakhstan, finding ' uncomfortably private but their , Their upbringing is very severe and the drunken PCOPtC. about War. ttbOUt E antStS t” MOSCOW. MUSttm brides in ' intimacy and informality is compelling. winter months are very long so they strikes. and ljust wanted to show who Uzbekistan and Cossacks in Rostov on The faces appear direct and ' rend novels and study religion or

the RU“th itth how thCY “V9. What i the DO“- YCI amidst SUCh CUtthat unthreatened. perhaps because what astrology. Almost everyone can recite the)’ feet. E dtV‘NSttY- V11" Mancn's PhOtOSmPhS are . began as a photographic documentation Pushkin.‘

Armed with only a tiny automatic 3 united by a common feeling of I A Hnmlml Smnnm-g, A Hnmiml camera, van Manen made ajoumey 3 destitution. Many of the photographs ' li’inrm captures :1 Russia in limbo: into an empire, whose politics continue are taken inside the bedrooms and ‘We have this strange idea between [he exhausted trials of [he to baffle theoutside world but liS. ? living rooms of squalid-communal flats about Russians, that they communist era and the shaky internal realities fascrnate. intending to g or wrthtn the walls of dilapidated - - - adolescence of demoerne and

., , . . . . . are uncrvritsed, chaotic, . , . , , Y 86! as Glow to Wcrydtt)’ ht? 08 P05811318. ; Institutions where the snapshot effect of capitalism. While Joumalisrs and "a" Mane" relied on making friendsr ' her tmtant camcm accentuate“ 3 gm“ always dl:unk' I found om historians attempt to understand where spending most of her travels staying : reality, A: one extreme, she that this iS "Ot true.’ [his (“Simcgmting empire is heading with families and sharing in their lives photographs 21 morgue where crudely van Maneng‘s work offers a rare and “thg t" ttht homcsi ‘15 She explait‘S‘ , StitCth-UP bOGiCS. half wrapped in truthful glimpse of the private world of ‘more as a guest who happened to take blankets, lie strewn over the floor, In for van Manen became a personal diary in ordinary people. pictures than as a photographer.‘ -: contrast she captures the moving about friends. strange acquaintances

Van Manen explored the many hidden 1 tenderness between young lovers and and feelings of respect for the people faces of the former Soviet Union. ()ver - grotesque elderly couples who weather she lived with. ‘We have this strange A Hundred Summers. A Hundred the course of seventeen visits between the interminable winter months idea about Russians, that they are ll’inrers is or I’orlfo/in Gallery. i99l and 1994. she made her way into together, uncivilised. chaotic. always drunkf she [Edinburgh until Sat 17 Feb.

M Hugging the burnt tail oi the world’s .~ most destructive war ever, the Uil’s Universal Declaration oi Human Ri hts


was understandably big on idealism. Take the following selection oi ' contributing Articles (it you need any _ - s, " : convincing): ‘Everyone has the right to ' .. , r ireedom oi opinion and expression’, j ‘Everyone has the right to ireer i participate in the cultural life oi the . f community . . . [and] to enjoy the arts’. That’s just three oi many Articles in j the Declaration. Yet the task at - incorporating these ideals into global f society has continually iioundered ; since 1948 - to presume this could be , 1 realised without compromise is to see it i Utopia as closer than a MacDonald‘s. That is almost too much to imagine,

Passion and pain: a computer-generated Image by Tracy Mackenna :4”! l but hope springs eternal. Angela and concern at everyone involved. ! 9MB "10 "'8 OPPOMMW to “Press

Kingston, curator oi Amnesty These exude irom almost every piece ' myself openly in a tree press - a ; lntemational’s group show Freedom at and, as a result, Freedom has a vibe, ; fundamental right ior every “L Kelvingrove, has acknowledged the spirit and punch - just like the real libertafian. and an opportunity not to enduring wishiulness oi this thinking thing. Freedom says it's okay to be Missed. So here goes . . . i love with her selection oi painting, believe in something, and as a 8'0"“ "I"! animals and Fmedom sculpture, photography and video. An celebration oi a political/social ideal, Closes very soon. Bun quickly to ; eclectic, ambitious mix, the content oi individual diiierence and artistic KBIVIDQFOVO and "Wilma! them I this show is inexorably drawn together aesthetics, the exhibition works both. (Paul Welsh) Freedom tighten an installation by Brian by the strength at its underlying extremely well. Simultaneously ; Freedom Is at Art Gallery and Museum, Jenkins philosophy, and the genuine sympathy exciting and worrying, the event also Kelvlngrove, Glasgow uni/I Sun 21 Jan. 5;

64 The List I2-25 Jan I996