"My first book, first published in 2006, was the culmination of a seven-year photographic journey that takes viewers through the countries and enclaves once held in orbit by the immense gravity of Moscow, the nucleus of the Soviet empire. Now each region is on its own in a chaotic political environment, sometimes without diplomatic recognition from neighbours, much less the international community.
Abkhazia, an unrecognized country on the Black Sea, was once the natural pearl of the empire, where bellicose generals and productive factory managers came to relax. The spacecraft crash zones between Russia and Kazakhstan reveal a Soviet-inflected version of the entrepreneurial spirit. In Transdniester, a breakaway region of Moldova that survives by functioning as a giant black market for illicit traffic in all manner of goods, from leftover Soviet munitions to bootlegged booze, I was expelled on the grounds that I was a "protagonist in an international spy ring."
These photographs reveal the often grim circumstances in these half-forgotten regions, uniformly poor and often politically unstable. The earliest chapter of the book, started in 1998 was my first attempts at telling a photographic story. In many ways this book was the project that taught me photography."
-- Jonas Bendiksen