The Aral “Sea” powerfully reveals the deadly impact of human activities—in this case, the intensive cultivation of cotton in the USSR—on an ecosystem. Daniel Asadi Faezi (The Absence of Apricots, VdR 2018) and Mila Zhluktenko (Find Fix Finish, VdR 2017) film the shore’s last inhabitants, who have lost their way of life to the desertification of their environment. A beautiful and poignant work about our probable future.
A print with faded colours gives way to stuffed animals: fishes, a bird and a fox on a black background, before a close-up of a hand wrinkled by the passage of time merges into a landscape of dunes swept by sandy winds, where a shipwrecked carcass of a boat is rusting away. Uralbay Utegenov is a survivor. His bent body rides on horseback across the immensity of the disaster, which he will one day have to explain to Sarbi, his granddaughter. The ‘Aral Sea,’ a saltwater lake between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – whose original surface area was twice the size of Belgium – is drying up due to the intensive cultivation of cotton which started under the Soviet era. Daniel Asadi Faezi (The Absence of Apricots, VdR 2018) and Mila Zhluktenko (Find Fix Finish, VdR 2017) have filmed the last inhabitants along the Uzbek lake shore, who have seen almost all the fish stocks – their staple food – disappear as desertification takes hold. Far from being a didactic treatise, Aralkum is a sensory evocation of an immeasurable loss, which makes us reflect on the deadly impact of our material excesses.
Opera Glasses, 2019
Find Fix Finish, 2017
DANIEL ASADI FAEZI
Slowly Forgetting Your Faces, 2021
Where We Used to Swim, 2019
The Absence of Apricots, 2018
In Search Of, 2017
Approaching Truck Drivers, 2017
Observation of Hawks in the Sky, 2016
Kids of Tehran, 2016
Arefi, The Shepherd, 2013