Category Archives: ThreeStories



What kind of alternative river life we can imagine

According to the researchers’ analysis, the find dates to 2350 AD. and consists of a dinner plate with the remains of plastic food. The untouched food  was left behind suddenly  in the home for unknown reasons.

We held an online drawing workshop for the children of Shamaldy-Sai. Pupils from local schools could fantasize about the underwater world. They were guided by an artist Cholpon Alamanova and organized by the local administration and school teachers.

Historically in/ability to swim reflected the existing structures of inequality – women often do not have access to the same resources and skills as men, including the resources and skills linked to the rivers and other bodies of water. At times, this denial of access to the river and inability to swim may cost women lives.

Baiterek is an emblematic building of modern Qazaqstan. By making Baiterek out of reed, we wanted to make a claim that common reed holds a great potential for becoming a building material of the future.

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.



Bridges make people independent of the river, they assure a crossing. Bridges are so important that they are often named after the decision-maker or sponsor who initiated their building.

Fishing in Shamaldy-Sai is more of a hobby than a livelihood. Men fish at the “Nachalka/Nachalo” – the beginning of the canal that comes out of the Naryn and flows through Shamaldy-Sai.

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. 

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.

This book tells the story of the water being Tanais and her love for Tal, a willow tree that grows on the river bank. One day Tanais wakes up and cannot find her beloved Tal in her usual place.

Virtual water refers to the amount of water needed to make a product. Its “virtual-ness” is realized when the product is traded outside of the area, effectively exporting the water from the region. 



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.