Common reed plays an important role in local people’s livelihoods and economy in the Syr Darya Delta. Summer reed is used for forage and is known as pshen in a local dialect. Winter reed is tied into tight bundles and is used for building houses and erecting fences. Winter reed bundles are called pashyn or shom. Many people tend to think of reed as a material of the past. Reed is not appreciated as much as it used to. For example, the owners of houses built with reed cannot get a loan, many people opt for bricks or metal when building houses or erecting fences. Such a change is seen as a sign of “development”. At the same time in “developed” countries eco-friendly reed houses are valued more than brick or metal buildings. This gallery shows the role of reed in the everyday life of delta communities and tries to make a claim that common reed holds great potential for becoming a building material of the future.
The Syr Darya has been an indispensable source of livelihoods for local tribes living along its banks. At the same time, the mighty and unpredictable waters of the river inspired artists, singers, and storytellers. For example, the local songs and legends tell about local people, animals of the Syr Darya, as well as about the river itself.
Tiger and catfish
(a folk tale from the Syr Darya Delta)Continue reading
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. It is one of the major pieces of hydrological infrastructure in the Syr Darya Delta. Source: Qazaqstan’s Central State Archive of Photo, Video and Audio Documents.
The recordings in this exhibition are part of a project entitled “Aral Sea Stories and the River Naryn”. It concerns the disappearance and partial restoration of the Aral Sea in Central Asia since the 1960s. Because The River Naryn is one of the primary sources of water for the Aral Sea it is also vital to the story. My project focusses on the amazing variety of sounds created by the river, the sea, the surrounding environment and the people who live in these areas. It asks the question, “What can we learn of water uses and abuses by listening to their sounds?” and follows the stories and directions suggested.Continue reading