From 1998 to 2005, Ivan Sigal worked, lived and travelled in Central Asia, traversing Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. He roamed with a dual identity: on the one hand designing media projects with local communities; on the other, an itinerant documentarian. The images from his multi-year odyssey reveal the unsettled lives of Eurasians in provincial towns and cities. Alongside the photos, an episodic narrative unfolds: vignettes chronicling Sigal’s encounters while tracing his restless passage through the landscape.
Through image and text, White Road addresses what was left behind when the Soviet Union’s ideological superstructure was stripped away, eliminating the grand narrative that imposed meaning on people’s lives. The cumulative effect is that of a search without a centre or apparent goal. We sense that circumstances of history and power propel us—subject, traveller, and reader—from encounter to encounter, and from place to place. The term “white road” means “safe journey” in Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek. These words are printed on road signs at the edges of Central Asian towns, wishing travellers well as they enter the emptiness of the steppe.