Human experiences with the Naryn and Syr Darya

I have a shape now, a span across the water. I settle into my new bed, my logs adjust to their rope moorings, and start to bleach in the sun. The river below me shifts as the ice starts to crack in spring. As summer comes, swallows nest under my arms and the Naryn cools my belly.

It is not only all over Central Asia that one can hear people exclaiming ‘Water is the Source of Life’. Along the Naryn river in Kyrgyzstan, one can often see such slogans decorating the protective walls around drinking-water infrastructure or irrigation – as here.

“In the flow” is a cyclic structure, illustrating the various flows circulating between Shamaldy-Sai and Moscow. These two distant places were once linked by ambitious projects of modernization.

Traditional water managers in Central Asia used to be called “Mirabs.” The profession of “mirab” has disappeared in its traditional understanding from the Central Asian region. The closest parallel today are municipal workers who perform the duties of “mirabs” these days.

Gendered norms of modesty and chastity for women define the water’s edge as the space where the rules of sexuality and gender are at risk and therefore need to be more strictly enforced.

This historic footage produced by the Soviet Qazaqstan TV journal shows how Qazaly dam had been built and entered service. This dam is located in the Basqara village of the Qazaly district (Qyzylorda province of Qazaqstan). Qazaly dam entered service in 1970.

Photography by Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu

River Flows is a photographic series capturing everyday landscapes from the Aral Sea basin.

Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, Deniz Nazarova, Cholpon Zhumanalieva, Aidar Zhumabaev

Archival and Contemporary Photographs

A bridge is a piece of magic. They make things possible that were not possible before. Thinking a bridge assumes that there is something you want to step over, across, not have contact with.