Jason Larkin is a British photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East and is currently based in Johannesburg. While living in Cairo, Jason forged a successful career working as a documentary photographer in the Middle East & Africa, publishing work in various periodicals throughout Europe and North America. Originally trained as a photojournalist in London he’s since moved away from the day-to-day of journalism and is now focusing on other, less reported aspects of life in the region.
He now dedicates his time to developing larger bodies of work that engage and reflect on current affairs which play out more in the periphery, seeking another more comprehensive viewpoint of an often misunderstood and ignored reality. Much of his work focuses on identity and how, whether viewed from an individual or collective group within society, it fluctuates as the environment and social situations constantly shift and evolve.
TribalTruth is pleased to present Jason Larkin’s photographs and story about Karakalpakstan located in Uzbekistan entitled Mistake of Nature
Mistake of Nature
Deep within the bizarre confluence of ruler-straight lines and flamboyant squiggles that make up the map of Central Asia lies a former Soviet republic called Karakalpakstan, a semi-autonomous enclave of Uzbekistan. This vast stretch of land was the site of one of the twentieth century’s most horrific environmental disasters – the disappearance of the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth-largest inland body of water. Karakalpakstan bears the scars of the Aral catastrophe everywhere; the old seabed has turned into the world’s youngest desert, the fishing industry collapsed devastating the local economy, farmers have seen their crops wither away, and the rate of respiratory diseases amongst the beleaguered population has spiralled.
But this isn’t your typical tale of ecological mayhem. What’s fascinating about Karakalpakstan is its political dynamic; long under the thumb of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, a nascent current of nationalism is slowly beginning to creep through the Karakalpak people, some of whom are beginning to demand outright independence from Tashkent. Those in Karakalpakstan that aren’t choosing to resist the Karimov regime are by and large leaving en masse, escaping across the border to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Conservative estimates suggest 10% of the population has melted away in the past decade, with people exploiting the complex tangle of ethnic backgrounds in the region to gain citizenship elsewhere.
To see more of Jason Larkin’s photographs visit his website:http://www.jasonlarkin.co.uk/
Tags: Aral Sea, Cairo, Central Asia, England, environmental disaster, fishing industry, independence, Islam Karimov, Jason Larkin, Karakalpakstan, Karimov regime, Kazakhstan, local economy, London, Middle East, nationalism, politics, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan