Promising Waters (2010 – 2013) by Mila Teshaieva, Ukrainian photographer based in Berlin, is a very promising project indeed, and has already won a lot of acclaim.
Promising Waters, as Teshaieva explains, is a ‘story about dreams and changes both originated in and stimulated by the Caspian [oil and gas] resources’ in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Over twenty years ago all three states emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union and found themselves facing the challenge of defining their national identities. Teshaieva spent four years documenting social and economic transformations happening in the region. She came to realize that while the immense oil resources were a metaphor for ever-lasting promises of better lives for all, in reality they brought irreparable damage to the natural environment, displacement for the poor, and financial prosperity to very few.
Photographs included in the series show the transformations and destruction in the Caspian Sea region almost too well. Depressing natural landscape in a state of ruin is juxtaposed with glowing skyscrapers in ultra-modern cities. Interiors reveal striking economic inequality, where excess and deprivation define two opposite ends of the spectrum. What a shame that promising waters of the Caspian Sea are nothing more than empty promises and mostly failed opportunities…
P.S. Mila Teshaieva will join Rafal Milach, Agnieszka Rayss, and other Sputnik Photos members to work on their new ‘LOST TERRITORIES’ project documenting 5 post-soviet countries of Central Asia. They’re crowd-sourcing funds for this project and YOUR help is needed – click here to support the project!