Kashgar before the Catastrophe
Imprint: George F Thompson Publishing
248 Pages, 10.9 x 12 in, 128 illustrations: 116 duotone and 8 color photographs by the author and 4 historic maps
- September 2023
- In Stock
In 1998, Kevin Bubriski was fortunate to spend time with the Uyghurs in Kashgar, their ancient city on the Silk Road in Xinjiang, China. While there, he made unforgettable photographic portraits and street scenes that reveal a haunting beauty and sense of the past in old Kashgar. Bubriski was drawn to the faces of ordinary people and their daily lives, with the intent that through photographs mutual understanding between people might be fostered. Although 1998 was an uncomfortable time of rapid transformation for the Uyghurs, their oasis city in the high desert was still vibrant, even as the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown was about to commence. In the last few years, up to a million Uyghurs have been detained in “re-education camps” while others have been subjected to forced sterilizations and wider persecution. The vibrancy, beauty, and grit that Bubriski witnessed and photographed more than two decades ago has irrevocably changed.
The Uyghur cultural, economic, familial, religious, and spiritual traditions are captured in Bubriski’s images and the extensive text by Tahir Hamut Izgil and the late Dru Gladney. These traditions, interwoven in Uyghurs’ lives and community for more than two millennia, have been severely impacted by the overt and disastrous policies of the Chinese government’s crackdown on Uyghur civil, spiritual, and cultural activities. The Uyghur community is now fractured and split due to widespread surveillance, mass detentions, and incarcerations. This book is also presented in a bilingual edition so that it is not only accessible to Uyghur people living in non-English-speaking regions of the world, but a way for Uyghurs around the world to reaffirm their cultural and social identity wherever they now live.
As many Uyghur families are now separated due to detentions or flight to asylum elsewhere, the book is meant to be an enduring gift for the Uyghur people and for all who wish to understand better Uyghur culture and history. Bubriski’s book is a stunning work of art that reveals an earlier time when Kashgar, beloved city of the Uyghurs, retained much of its traditional life and charm.
“Kevin Bubriski's images from Kashgar on the brink of the millennium are nothing short of fantastic. They achieve what every documentary photographer hopes to achieve: journalistic precision and visual poetry. They are less than a quarter of a century old but beautifully tell the story of a place like no other in Asia. On my repeated viewings, I was engulfed by a mix of emotions, from nostalgia of an ancient city I hold dear in my heart but could only visit too briefly to jealousy of not making such images during my first trip to the region, despair caused by looking at a rich heritage that has recently been destroyed to anger when thinking of the violence that many among these people had to go through in the last few years, many of them locked in Chinese reeducation camps. The Uyghurs is an important photographic testament to a place not so far away from us that is already long gone.” ~Patrick Wack, photographer and author of DUST
“Kevin Bubriski’s photographs capture a Kashgar before the Chinese government’s crackdown that is a window into humanity and tradition, a world that few of us got to know but many dream of. His photographs hold that dream like a fragile locket. With captivating texts and poetry by Tahir Hamut Izgil and a historical essay by Dru Gladney, this book can help one understand just how rich and filled with warmth, depth, and history this important and magical city once was. The Uyghurs is a testament to the resilience of Uyghurs whose voices, culture, and memory must carry on.” ~Lisa Ross, photographer and author of Living Shrines of Uyghur China
“The Uyghurs: Kashgar before the Catastrophe should stop you in your tracks. With its haunting narrative, evocative photographs, and poignant texts and poems, this volume illuminates and inspires. Perhaps most important: At a time when Chinese authorities seek to erase Uyghur identity, this book also preserves.” ~Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch and author of China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence
“Kevin Bubriski’s photographs offer a glimpse back into the ways and dreams of the people of Kashgar before the disasters of the twenty-first century. More than an echo of a vanished past, they suggest an alternative future: what it might look like for Uyghurs to live with dignity in the magnificent city they built themselves over the centuries.” ~James A. Millward, Georgetown University and author of 'The Silk Road' and 'Eurasian Crossroads'
“We often associate photographs with a feeling of loss, since they present the illusion of connecting to a person, place, or time that we know is already gone. This sense of loss is amplified in Kevin Bubriski’s The Uyghurs: Kashgar before the Catastrophe, because the disappearances that were imposed on Uyghur communities since these images were made are so severe and so full of trauma. As Tahir Hamut Izgil attests in the story of his childhood in Kashgar, the persecution of Uyghurs was already taking place clandestinely while Bubriski’s vivid images of Uyghur life were being recorded on the street. Two realities: one seen, one kept hidden. Bringing the two together in this book serves as a reminder that there is always more to imagine than what meets the eye in a photograph. The loss is real, but so is the life.” ~Carolyn Drake, photographer for Magnum and author of 'Two Rivers' and 'Wild Pigeon'