Many believe Bifatima Dualetova to be one of the last Sufi dervishes in Kazakhstan. I first met her in September 2010 while traveling in Central Asia. The locals that I was staying with in Almaty told me about a shaman woman living on the outskirts of the small village Ungurtas, close to Kyrgyzstan's border. "The last house in the village, at the foot of the 'Sacred Hill,'" they said. ...... I ended up staying with her for more than two months, from January to March 2011, documenting her rituals and practices, herding sheep, and working on my van.Photographer Denis Vejas documents the practices of one of the country's last Sufi dervishes. Russian language post (Google Translate). Note: some images of animal sacrifice.
Photographer Keen Heick-Abildhauge loves Russia and decided to ask various residents about their passions and ambitions. The result is Portraits And Dreams Of People From 1 To 100 Years Of Age.
This year alone, over 20,000 Russian Orthodox pilgrims followed an icon of St. Nicholas from Kirov to Velikoretskoye on foot. The 180km-long pilgrimage through the Russian countryside dates back to the 14th century. Sergey Kozmin's photos. Some extra info here.
Russos takes photos of Moscow Metro construction. Also of a half-abandoned river port, a cool bridge being put together, and an old underground nuclear submarine base. But mostly of the Metro, behind the scenes. (Don't ask me how he gets access.) [more inside]
Dead Road - Museum of Communism in the Open. "It was one of the most ambitious projects of the Stalin era, known as the 'railway of bones'. At least 10 people a day died during the four years of its construction [actually 1947-1953], but unlike most of Uncle Joe's grand designs it was never completed and now sits unfinished in the tundra, an icy road to nowhere." The transpolar railway was built by labour camps^ 501 and 503 and construction was stopped after the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953; 800km, about half, was built. Some sections are currently in operation, but much is abandoned: depot and locomotives in Dolgoe, Dolgoe itself, labour camps, more spectacular decay. (Previously: Norilsk, which was supposed to see an extension of the line.)
Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig provides a fascinating glimpse of the people and places of 5 of the "-stan" countries of Central Asia. You can see more work and current projects on his flickr page. Noteworthy photo essays: Arsan Baths in Almatry, Soviet Roadside Bus Stops (seen here before), and his recent The Wheelbarrow Operators of Monrovia.
Revisiting Imperial Russia A Century Later MeFi veterans will undoubtedly remember how amazed we all were in 2001 by the color photographs of rural Imperial Russia by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Or maybe some of you newer members remember when we revisited that site in 2004. Last year, photographers returned to a number of the original locations photographed by Prokudin-Gorkii to re-photograph the same locations as they are now. For the most part, little has changed.
The (previously mentioned) excellent webzine Polar Inertia has a great photo essay on Soviet Roadside Bus Stops. The crazy architecture & diversity are really interesting, as is the abject sparseness of territory around the stops. Via.