White Road by Ivan Sigal

  • 12 February 2013
  • From the section In Pictures
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Fomka, Russia, 2003, from White Road by Ivan Sigal

American photographer Ivan Sigal spent seven years between 1998 and 2005 designing media projects with local communities in Central Asia and whilst there took the opportunity to document those he met and worked with.

Sigal's role was to help establish TV and radio stations, as well as to train journalists on his journey which took him to Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.

His black and white pictures are hard to decipher as his constant moving from one place to another means we never quite come to rest on one thing, capturing moments of joy as well as the daily struggle of those working hard to survive.

Paul Roth writes in the afterword to Sigal's book, White Road: "Reality can't be simplified into news, or summed up in storylines. It began before the photographer arrived, and continues after he leaves."

That's true of all pictures, they are but a moment we have anchored in time by fixing it with the camera's gaze. Here the fact that Sigal is in the former Soviet states add to that impact, as his pictures echo the struggle of those countries to establish their own identities.

The book title, White Road, means safe journey in Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, words that are printed on road signs at the edges of Central Asian towns, wishing travellers well as they enter the emptiness of the steppe. The work stands as both a record of Sigal's journey and of the communities he met.

Here are a few frames from Ivan Sigal's odyssey.

And here are a few of Sigal's panoramic shots

White Road by Ivan Sigal is published by Steidl.