Klavdij Sluban crosses abandoned Far Eastern towns on foot — what happened to their inhabitants? A few are still here, wrapped up in the fog, like fleeing animals or with their backs to the wall. Searching for people, the photographer travelled outside Europe, penetrating into Asia, Russia, Mongolia, China, on the Trans-Siberian railway, yet he never encountered a density of population. Everywhere, the physicality of the land has taken over and rendered negligible the human species.

The photographer was nostalgic for the snow of his childhood, which surrounded him in his corner of the world, but here the snow has become a white cancer: it doesn’t cover the ground, but consumes it. The silence is oppressive. 

The photographer seldom uses a fast exposure to capture a movement or a journey. More often, he leaves the camera open for a long time, so that the silence impregnates the film. Stillness needs time to rise to the surface. Stillness is the state of grace of a messianic moment, not the exaltation of an arrival, but the end of a journey. 

One of the recent photographs amounts to a portrait of our time, the face of a woman with lips parted as if to kiss nothingness, inverted in a reflection. She addresses herself to a point irredeemably separate from her. This is the East, looking to the West. It’s the most silent look of the whole series, offering and demanding salvation, and creating a silence in those who look at it. 

— Extracted from a preface by Erri de Luca for the book Transsibériades. Read this in the original French here.