Carolyn Drake gets the Guggenheim Fellowship 2010 for Creative Arts – Photography with her long-term project “Paradise Rivers”.
Based in Istanbul, Turkey, American-born photographer Carolyn Drake is best known for her unique body of work that brings the history, topography, culture, and peoples of Turkey, China, and the former Soviet republics to the Western world.
This project re-centers the rivers. It follows them from their source in the valleys of the Pamir and Tien Shen mountains, across the countries of Tagjikistan, Kyrgyzistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to their dwindling ends, crossing into the lives of people and layers of history that they intersect along the way.
Despite the divisions that have emerged since the Soviet Union collapsed, the two rivers that run through the countries still bind them inextricably. Paradise Rivers follows the Amu Darya and Syr Darya from their origins in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan west through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to their dwindling ends, crossing into the lives of people and layers of history that they intersect along the way.
The journey reveals Central Asia as a place where the connection between the earth, human life, and empire is at once plainly visible and complex, where the forward flow of time and progress are not given. By usign the rivers as an organizing principle rather than political lines separating nations, I hope to place emphasis on the region’s topography.