When the USSR dissolved, in 1991, its satellite states were sent into free space—and uncertain futures. Jonas Bendiksen, a prodigiously talented photographer, has explored six gray areas in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and far eastern Siberia, for seven years, and in the process reveals that the Soviet breakup still continues today. Many of these outposts are ostensibly state-less states, places where Soviet nostalgia looms large, self-styled brands of capitalism have emerged, where cities are scarred from bloody insurrections, and entire populations have fled in search of better lives.
Hauntingly beautiful, the sixty-two arresting color photographs of Satellites: Photographs from the Fringes of the Former Soviet Union unsentimentally reveal the often grim circumstances in these half-forgotten regions that are uniformly poor and polluted—and often politically unstable. We may not hear much about them today, but we will certainly hear more from them in the near future as the fall of the Iron Curtain continues to reverberate throughout the region.
A member of Magnum Photos, Jonas Bendiksen (born in Tønsberg, Norway, 1977) has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography and first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His work has been exhibited at the Tom Blau Gallery in London and in the Moving Walls exhibition at the Open Society Institute, New York. His photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Geo , Newsweek, and theSunday Times Magazine, among other publications. His bestselling first book, Satellites: Photographs from the Fringes of the Former Soviet Union, was published in 2006 by Aperture. In 2007, the Paris Review received a National Magazine Award for Bendiksen’s project The Places We Live.