I’m still madly in love with Antwerp. The enchantment starts right as i step out of the train and marvel at the way train tracks are stacked on top of each other in the magnificent train station. After that i head to Walter van Beirendonck‘s shop hoping that he’ll ask me to marry him, we’ll talk for hours about the most flattering wedding suit for him and i’ll spend the rest of my life combing his beard.
Right! Back to reality. I’m not exactly Walter’s type, my boyfriend is the best bf in the whole galaxy and the subject of this post was one of the fantastic exhibitions i saw at the Photo Museum in Antwerp yesterday.
In 2007 and 2008, Belgian freelance photographer Nick Hannes traveled across the former Soviet Union by bus and train in search of remnants of the region’s Communist past and signs of recent social transition and evolutions. He visited Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Moldova, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and brought back images that bear a lot of nostalgia for the past, a capitalism that might have spread a bit too fast in some cases, a few vodka and blondes clichés we’ll never get tired of, some amazingly beautiful landscapes and a time that seems to pass at varying speeds.
To say that the former Soviet Union has become uniformly wrapped inside a depressing shroud of grey haze is telling only a half-truth. In Siberia, there is sunshine. Many people sincerely believe in the prospects for a better future. These contrasts, telling of extreme wealth in the midst of gut-wrenching and heart-rending poverty, images of modern day dictators like golden calves surrounded by the remnants of faded glory, run like a persistent red thread throughout the story of “Red Journey”. In suburban districts, deprived neighbourhoods bordering train stations, on beach fronts and fairy grounds, the photographer is searching for tableaux that break through the mould that forms the stereotype image of the region.
Red Journey is on view until September 13 at the Foto Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.