A photographic journey into the contradictions of Siberia—its pristine wilderness and despoiled landscapes, its pockets of wealth and abandoned cultural centers.
Growing up near Washington DC at the end of the Cold War, New York–based photographer Michael Turek (born 1982) has always been drawn to Russia as a taboo, forbidden place. This project began in the winter of 2016 when he joined award-winning British writer Sophy Roberts as she pursued a three-year search for a historic piano in Siberia; he traveled to the region another five times, exploring the vast territory east of the Ural Mountains all the way to the Pacific.
Turek’s images record a constant tension—sometimes bizarre, often unsettling—between desecrated landscapes alongside pristine wildernesses; between the lives of indigenous people and modern Russians; between worn-out infrastructure and abandoned towns juxtaposed with gleaming new cities pumping gas and oil. The journey takes him deeper and deeper into small towns and villages, into the arsenic-green corridors of Khrushchev apartment blocks. The photographs have a slowness and a stillness to them. Each one is a fragment of a conversation, a moment of genuine intimacy between subject and photographer.