Looking for Aral
Project info

Aral sea is one of the most important ecological disaster in the world. In the 60’s, the Soviets decided to intensify coton culture by derivating the Amou-Daria and Syr-Daria rivers, causing the lost of 90 % of the Aral sea, and the majority of fish species living in. Massive quantities of salt and pesticides were transported by the wind, increasing the infant mortality and cancer. Also, fishing activities disappeared, leaving most of the inhabitants in pauverty.

I decided to go from Almaty to Aralsk, in Kazakhstan, to see it by myself. The travel, by buses and night train, was very long and I stopped in a couple cities to contemplate the landscapes and see the everyday life of the kazakh people, now in 2017, without Aral sea anymore. In the important cities, life seems to be going on, and pretty pleasant, people going to work, celebrating weddings, and living their life in peace.
I went through Turkestan and Kyzylorda, to end in Aralsk, wich was the most important harbor before the disaster. Nowadays, it’s just a lonely little city in the middle of desert, where I can’t stop wondering what people make a living of, without fishing. I pushed a little further to Zhalanash, hoping to find a little water, but the further I went, the more depressing it got. When I arrived in the village, there were just nothing... The rests of a goat lying on the ground, some fishing boats corpses, a few families living on a floor that used to be filled with water. Everything seemed dead.

Today, we observe that Aral sea has reborn a little, thanks to the construction of a barrage, there is a thin hope to see it grow again, even if it will never really recover.

Theses images were made in august 2017 with a Rolleiflex 2,8E and Portra 400 films.