Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Triumph of Urgench

Our Cultural Envoy entourage including: Lisa our diplomat, Muhayo the decider, Rustam my interpreter, and Frank the presenter arrived at the Urgench State College of Arts to the sounds of long horns and drums. The audience takes shelter from the heat along a shady wall as the festivities begin.
Once inside the building all manner of creativity springs forth. We enter a room lined with student art and another great band playing like crazy. And the dancing begins.
After about a half hour of wild dancing and music, it is time for me to present.  We enter an adjacent auditorium which has 300 people sitting there waiting for us. The picture below is after I presented as I was a bit embarrassed to photograph them while they were applauding our arrival.
 See those two guys with video and flood lights? Well, they insisted on filming me and the slide show, which means their flood lights washed out my slides on the screen. Normally, I would be upset, but this was different, way different. After I finished there was a Q&A with wild applause for every answer I gave. Then they announced a little show to celebrate our visit to the school.
 The young lady in green jumped off the stage and grabbed me to dance. You bet I danced.
Muhayo took a video of both Lisa's and my attempt at Khorezm dancing. Lisa, always the diplomat, did a great job of looking fantastic dancing with a girl with 5 feet of hair. I had to grab the girl in green by the hands to keep her from getting too fancy and making me really look inept. I may never post that video.
After an hour of dancing, gifting, group portraits and at least 3 bouquets of flowers, we settled into the truly wonderful director's spacious office. We sat down to the best plov I've ever had. After our unphotographed lunch the music started up again. This rabob player was doing an incredibly complex western classical piece. He was followed by two girls on dueling dutars who were also fantastic. They were followed by opera singers, a sax player professor, a middle school violinist, several pianists and more talent that one could fit in Carnegie Hall. It was amazing. Then the incredibly generous director says, "...let's take the afternoon off." We are ecstatic. I don't have to present again that day. We were all exhausted from experiencing so much talent and energy.
The next morning the terrific director (Did I mention he was fabulous, yet?) arranged for us to photograph with students in a working photo studio. What he didn't mention was that the studio would be open for business while we were trying to have a workshop. We would work on my zany ideas of what I thought we should do in a studio and every 10 minutes we would stop and reset the lights for a paying customer with a conventional portrait. It was fun.
This is Muhayo who basically is the go-to person for my whole cultural envoy experience. We have spent several days together and yet this is the first time I noticed that she has 3 feet. Later that evening in Khiva, I photograph Muhayo again just to check on her feet. I'm pleased to see that my previous picture was just another situation where the camera does lie.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Almaty in Blue

Donna, Olga and Vivian walking the streets of Almaty.
The top 8 pictures are from the streets of Almaty. The final image is from the mountains outside of town.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Days in Kazakhstan

Baptism in Almaty

These pictures are from a visit to the primary Russian Orthodox church in Almaty last Sunday.

We've been in Kazakhstan for 9 days and I have finally accessed my blog. It seems that my Asia Central blog is more about the difficulty of blogging in Central Asia than it is about the experience of Central Asia. From now on, I'll keep it on topic with a minimum of text and a maximum of pictures.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in Action

I am very pleased to finally be able to post on Asia Central. I've been in Central Asia for three weeks by now and have had considerable difficulties in getting my blogs out. A Turkmen student showed me how to bypass the filters to get into FaceBook and it seems to help with Blogspot and Wordpress. I'll continue to post from The Coruscating Camera to avoid double posting. Please check there for newer posts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pictures do not want to post. I'll try another work around as I don't think many viewers are interested in reading a long public letter from a photographer. It's all about the pictures.

Tashkent 2011

I ended my last post of over a year ago with the words, "more later." Well, this is seriously later and the internet, at least the version of it in the Dedeman Hotel in Tashkent, is questionable on several levels. The best way to see if it is allowing me to post is to simply hit "publish." So, if you see this brief post, an attempt to upload photographs will soon follow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nukus--Last Day in Uzbekistan 2010

My last day in Uzbekistan was in the far west of the country. The KyrgyzUzbek conflict was on the far eastern Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan border. Later, I felt I was letting ZUMA, my press agency, down by not photographing the conflict. I'm not much of a war photographer. Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s challenged my tolerance for photographing suffering. I'm an "ordinary life" kind of photographer. For instance, in Nukus, I was fascinated by the metal snakes in a neighborhood playground. I like a fake snake.
As for signs of danger, be it snake or man, a missing manhole cover makes me nervous enough.
I am interested in survival in the aftermath of difficult circumstances. That's why I'm attracted to the former Soviet Union (FSU). I photograph how people are getting along more than how people are not getting along. For example, I'm happy for this high-end street musician who is all amped-up and ready for karaoke on an empty Nukus street.
I was warned not to eat ice cream in Nukus. I did want to support his ice cream seller, though.
Now, I am in southern France near where many people died a couple of days ago in flash flooding. Again, I am not being a good ZUMA Press member. I'm in Aix-en-Provence teaching photography for 6 weeks.
I think this Asia Central blog will again switch back to The Coruscating Camera on Wordpress. I don't like the way Blogger/Blogspot functions. I recently posted France pictures at The Coruscating Camera and will continue to look back at recent FSU work there. So please check it out and subscribe.