Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Released prisoners take the Transsiberian train back home.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27
Camp mascotte

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Women camp.

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Guards olympics.

 

Sosnovobosk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 37.
Tuberculosis camp.

 

Sosnovobosk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 37.

 

Sosnovobosk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 37.
Agricultural camp.

 

Hayruzovka, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 26.
Prisoners village.

 

Hayruzovka, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 26.
Prisoners village.

 

Hayruzovka, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 26.
Prisoners village.

 

Hayruzovka, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 26.
Prisoners village.
School bus.

 

Hayruzovka, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 26.
Prisoners village.

 

Rishoti, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 15.
Prisoners village.

 

Rishoti, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 15.
Prisoners village.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27.

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp.

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2000
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27
Mother visits her son.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27
Inmates waiting for visitors.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27
Wedding palace

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27
Holiday house. Inmates with good behaviour can spend some time here away from labour and collective sleeping baracks.

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 18

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 18

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 18

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 22
Women's camp

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 22
Women's camp

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 22
Women's camp
Psychology hour

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 22
Women's camp
Rehearsal for the Cinderella play

 

Nizhniy Ingash, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 22
Women's camp
Saturday night ball

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 31

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 17

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 17

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 17

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 6

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 6

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 6

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 12

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 12

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 12

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 12

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 27

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp

 

Kansk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Youth camp

 

Tchournojar, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 22

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 12

 

Novobirusinsk, Siberia, Russia

2002
Camp 12

 

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia

2001
Camp 27
Holiday house

 

In his color-photo series Zona, the Belgian photographer Carl De Keyzer proves he is both a wonderful storyteller and a great aesthetician. He presents us with quizzical shots of boys and men in blue uniforms, shaved heads, and expressions ranging from the devious to the devout. Factory workers? Special-needs students? No, these are prisoners in updated and less horrible reincarnations of yesterday's Siberian gulags. 

The photographs were taken during several winter and summer months spent visiting prison camps near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Like an anthropologist, De Keyzer stayed with his subjects long enough to gain real insight into their strange world -- and also just long enough to contract a nasty case of tuberculosis.

Despite their mostly-similar uniforms and uniformly shaved heads, De Keyzer's prisoners emerge as real and differentiated characters. In two superb shots, we see prisoners at dining hall tables in topsy-turvy versions of The Last Supper. Replacing Jesus at the helm of his disciples, the protagonist in Russia. Siberia. Tchournojar. Camp #22, is a menacing boy with a commanding presence, a scarred scalp, and a pleased grin. Not unlike a young Vladimir Putin, he seems assured of his own brilliantly horrible future. In Russia. Siberia. Camp #27. Krasnoyarsk, the protagonist turns from his comrades to meet our gaze, but now with the tranquility and curiosity of an animal that hasn't learned to fear humans. Pink lace curtains and artisan-baked bread add a touch of the surreal.

In Russia. Siberia. Tchournojar. Camp #22 (which strangely has the same title as above) our heroine is the sole woman, and the sole non-prisoner. She glides down a staircase with taut shoulders, seeking comfort in the railing as a group of boys and young men loiter around her, innocent to their own dangerous power.

In other pictures, we see doves brilliantly illuminated in a prison yard, a pet wolf pacing in a gilded cage, and a man huddling by a fire in the snow. A feeling of mild claustrophobia and historical burden runs through the entire series. The shots are artfully composed in a cool, fluorescent light. They are sometimes beautiful, and always visually fascinating. 

De Keyzer is a member of the prestigious photographer's organization Magnum, founded by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947. Continuing in their tradition of emotionally engaged photojournalism, De Keyzer's images achieve more than faithful documentation, and give us, with their strange juxtapositions and expressions, some wonderfully rich stories. 

De Keyzer's black-and-white series God, Inc. is on view next to Zona. Shot on a three-month road trip across the United States, God, Inc. remains a documentary where Zona is fine art. It portrays the religious right in its myriad celebrations: Catholics re-enacting the Passion, Mormon moms in lawn chairs clutching pictures of Jesus, and sadly, Presbyterian as a "living Christmas-tree." This series is amusing and sometimes interesting, but lacks the depth and narrative range of the Siberian photos.  

Through April 28 at Robet Koch Gallery, 49 Geary Street, 5th floor. Tuesday-Saturday, 10.30-5.30

By Michael Knud Ross (WhiteHot Magazine)

 

 

 

Πρωτοσέλιδο της εφημερίδας Liberation (19 Αυγούστου)  : "Στο Γκούλαγκ για ένα τραγούδι".