Critical Mass Top 50, 2012

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Ikuru Kuwajima

www.ikurukuwajima.com


From Moskvitch 1977

Swimming

Lenin

Dead Sheep

Fishing in the Lake Balkhash

Rainbow on the Horizon

Metal Scavenger

Nap

Chickens

Boat
Ikuru Kuwajima

Halfway through the vast steppe between Kazakhstanís southern business capital Almaty and the new capital Astana, the anti-rocket missile testing range covers more than hundred square kilometers of desolate steppe. The testing range known as the Sary-Shagan Polygon was established in 1956 during the Soviet era and hosted tens of thousands of the Soviet military personnel and their families for the testing of ballistic missile. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the majority of the residents, especially non-ethnic Kazakhs, left the area that lost much significance and governmental supports. The results were the scenes of abandoned houses and military facilities scattered in the steppe and along the west bank of Balkhash Lake. Yet, parts of the territory are still leased for Russian military, and both Kazakhstan and Russian millitaries are still stationed in the area, keeping the polygon still active. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, those who remained in the area have been struggling to cope with economic distress and poor infrastructure. Many work as metal scavengers or fishermen to make ends meet. The area was once one of the last hopes for the Soviet Union, but now it is surrounded by quite horizons and abandoned buildings scattered around in the desolate steppe.