“Promising Waters” – A Bleak Look At Post-Soviet Life in the ‘Stans

Stark and depressing images taken throughout Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Post-Soviet life can be rough.

Photographer Mila Teshaieva has spent the last few years visiting three post-soviet countries on the shores of the Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Up until a couple of decades ago these countries were under Soviet rule and they had been for a long, long time; despite their rich oil reserves, the people were, and still are, pretty poor.

Images all VIA

Today, as the last of the Soviet tendrils shrivel away, these three new countries are still wrestling with their identities and healing old wounds. Teshaieva’s photos are cool not just because of the objects they show, but because of the space that’s left in the frame. There’s oodles of nothingness out there in those vast countries.

According to Teshaieva, some residents of these new Caspian countries are mega-rich, but most are living hand to mouth:

Fishermen don’t know if they will find fish. Refugees are waiting to learn if they can return to Karabakh. The luxury resort remains empty.

It must be pretty strange to have to find a national identity after being ruled by someone else for so long. And with the promise of gas and oil comes the certainty of financial corruption. These countries, in the adolescence of nationhood, are in a rocky boat.

Mila Teshaieva’s photos are awesome, they capture the sparse beauty of the lands and their people. They show ply wood shanty towns filled with suffering refugees next to ungainly displays of opulence; it really is a weird mix.

(Click through the following images using the left and right arrows)

Mila Teshaieva - Promising Waters 1

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