Elliott Verdier: A Shaded Path

A portrait of Kyrgyzstan, a fledging nation caught between its Soviet past and an uncertain future.

This is the story of a former Soviet republic landlocked in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, home to six million people, esteemed for its nomadic traditions, its yurts, its horses, its breathtaking mountainous landscapes and steppe. It holds a less perceptible decor, less alluring perhaps, than the stereotypes and necessary embellishments of the impenetrable USSR era. 

A Shaded Path is the result of four months spent traveling around an unknown country, where Verdier photographer focused on portraying unfamiliar faces and landscapes using a large-format camera.

The series highlights an underlying tension between tradition and transition, between the older generation’s nostalgia for the nation’s Soviet past, and the nation’s younger, Westernized generation.  It explores the trials of a fledgling country struggling to simultaneously form a national identity while keeping apace with the global economy.

These images take the viewer on a journey through desolate landscapes, troubling portraits of minors, workers, students and elders; villages that have fallen into abeyance, and that sky – that Kyrgyz sky that perpetually seems to give more depth to the many narratives that unfold under its intensity…

A Shaded Path reflects fragments of reality – moments – in an attempt to reconstitute a larger concealed story. With what is left of its broken dreams and surprising vitality, the young republic of Kyrgyzstan is a contradictory Neverland where great aspirations cross paths with remnants of a Soviet era that seem, somehow, frozen in the country’s landscapes and in its people’s minds. A society rooted in environments where pain and isolation come into contact with a somewhat silent resignation. Elliott Verdier’s images not only show the echoes of a wounded past, but of one that has been forgotten, that lurks under the surface, ready to rear its head if only someone paid more attention.

Elliott Verdier is a young french photographer who has gained international attention and awards for his photographic documentation of the human condition in various parts of the world – Indonesia’s Afghan refugees, Burma’s drug addicts in a rehab center, or Mongolia’s polluted suburbs of Ulanbaataar.

He  has now decided to dedicate his photography to long term projects, far from hot news, entering into the intimate lives of his subjects, with his 4×5 large format camera. A constant in his images : the light, a hope for a better world. 

Text and images courtesy of the photographer.

See more of Verdier's work on his portfolio or Instagram.