Synopses & Reviews
"Ljalja Kuznetsova's work displays a rare combination of visual and emotional perceptiveness, an unusual degree of wisdom, and a lack of sentimentality. Her touch is so light that we might forget the determination and even toughness required to get each picture. Filled with the poetry of freedom, suffering, and pride, her images linger in the mind like personal memories."--Inge Morath (Introduction)
A native of Kazakhstan, Ljalja Kuznetsova traversed the expanses of the Central Asian steppe to photograph the gypsies, or Roma people, whose mysterious comings and goings have fascinated her since she was a child. Shaking the Dust of Ages: Gypsies and Wanderers of the Central Asian Steppe is the first book devoted to these pictures, for which Kuznetsova won the Mother Jones Leica Medal of Excellence and the Paris Grand Prix for Photography.
Kuznetsova's photographs present rare, intimate portraits of gypsies-- whose freedom from the ties of civilization is reflected in the wild winds and unlimited vistas of the steppe landscape. As Kuznetsova traveled through Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the Ukraine, the gypsies continually inspired her. She found in them a people without frontiers, living independent of politics, religious dispute, or social class. Though their presence on the steppe is becoming a thing of the past, Kuznetsova's cast of characters and their world seem timeless in these images.
With the eye of a poet, Kuznetsova conveys the vitality, pride, and fortitude that have sustained Central Asia's gypsy population through centuries of rough living conditions and political turmoil. From an insider's vantage, she brings us into the heart of a distant land and people.
About the Author
Born in Kazakhstan in 1946, Ljalja Kuznetsova
studied at the Kazan State Aviation Institute and worked as an aviation engineer for several years before taking up photography in the late '70s. In 1978, she worked as a photographer for the Kazan State Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1979 became a member of the Lithuanian Photographic Association. From 1980 to 1982, Kuznetsova was a reporter and photographer for the Evening Kazan
, and since that time she has worked as an independent photographer. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions in Europe and the United States, including a show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Inge Morath is a world famous photographer. She has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1954. In 1992, she was awarded the 1992 Great Austrian State Prize for Photography. Her photographs have appeared in numerous magazines around the globe and are included in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. Marina Rasbeshkina, a Russian journalist, addresses Kuznetsova's work within the context of both the steppe landscape and the cultural upheaval that characterizes Central Asia today. Ljalja Kuznetsova herself writes about her time with the gypsies and narrates the behind-the-scenes context of her photographs, and the events in her life that afforded her such rare access to the Central Asian Roma.