DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch

Two Rivers by Carolyn Drake was shown as part of the DEVELOP Photo line-up for the first edition of the On Photography Online Film Festival, 9/29/13. The Festival was part of the FOTOWEEK in Holland, an initiative of FOAM and the Netherlands Photo Museum, and was organized by Barbera Brakel of Photo Affairs.

“The two main rivers of Central Asia, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, originate in the mountains near China’s western border and run into the Aral Sea – or at least they used to, before the Soviets diverted them to irrigate cotton fields. The Greeks knew the two rivers as the Oxus and the Jaxartes. A Muslim hadith holds that they are two of the four rivers that flow into Paradise. ‘Two Rivers’ is Carolyn Drake’s photographic record of many visits to this region over the past five years. Drake’s Central Asia is a place where political allegiances, ethnic bonds, national borders, and even physical geography are in such flux as to seem, at times, like fictions. Following the two rivers, she traces a vast ecosystem of stories, nature, money, and history.” -Elif Batuman, the New Yorker

Carolyn Drake studied Media/Culture and American History in the 1990s at Brown University, where she became interested in documentary, and the ways that history and reality are shaped, revised, and re-imagined over time. After graduating, she worked for publishing companies in New York for many years, but eventually left her office job to engage with the world through photography. She studied at ICP and entered the grad program at Ohio University, returning to New York frequently to work on a project about the Lubavitchers, a closed community of ultra orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, where she had lived for eight years. The photo essay won the Community Awareness Award at POYi. In 2006, she moved to Ukraine, where she created photo stories along the perimeter of the country while studying Russian.

Since 2007, Carolyn has been pursuing two photography projects in Central Asia. The first – Two Rivers – explores the shifting borders, histories, and life systems in the geographic spaces between Aghanistan, Iran, Russia, and China. The book, self published in June 2013, is a collaboration with writer Elif Batuman and designer Sybren Kuiper. The second project, still ongoing, is a collage of photos, sketches, and texts about Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. The work explores the boundaries of photography while telling the story of a culture being disrupted and reshaped.

Carolyn is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright fellowship, the Lange Taylor Documentary Prize, a World Press Photo award, and was a finalist for the Santa Fe Prize. She has exhibited at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, the Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, Somerset House in London, and the New York Photo Festival, among other venues.
This video is part of the DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel which can be found at DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch. DEVELOP Tube is an educational resource which features interviews, profiles, lectures & films about photojournalism, fine art photography & documentary photography.

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DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch


The DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel is an educational resource which features interviews, multimedia, lectures & films in photojournalism, documentary & fine art photography.


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The DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel is an educational resource which features interviews, multimedia, lectures & films in photojournalism, documentary & fine art photography.


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