Sebastian Rogowski: Suicidal Birds
There are road trips and then there are transformative journeys that imprint on your soul and open your eyes to new vistas filled with strange beauty. Photographer Sebastian Rogowski has created a visual diary of his travels through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and the result is his self-published monograph, Suicidal Birds. The work includes stark landscapes with luminous blue lakes, mountains that render everything else insignificant — human life simply a momentary visitor in the histories of their existence, and totems and architecture that add to the surreal nature of these lands. There is a melancholy beauty in these photographs that speak to place, but also offer an unspoken internal narration of self.
Born and Based in Bydgoszcz, Sebastian Rogowski (1979), stood behind camera only in 2017. Since then, he carried out multiple personal projects: focused on Polish landscapes insignificant, Israel-based The Desert Fever, and most recently, Suicidal Birds on central Asia. His passion for new documentary is manifested in choice of ordinary, everyday subjects. He sees beauty in melancholy and evanescence. Sebastian is fascinated with places, which have been marked by difficult history as well as rapid cultural changes. Places such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. After graduating Academy of Photography in Warsaw he now attends Photography at Royal Academy of Art in the Hague.
“I’ve never hit an animal while driving before. Neither a dog, nor a fox, nor a hare. Not even once for 20 years a bird smashed into my windshield. And, suddenly, “boom”! Smack after smack, a dozen, if not dozens of bird bodies drop beneath the dust of cloud on a gravel road. First time in my life, here in Kazakhstan. Then the second, third, until it became a common sight. I saw tiny sparrows, number of large birds, also giant eagles laying down. It certainly wasn’t a coincidence. It’s a collective suicide!”
I set off on my trip through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. No specific destination, no marked points on the map, no arranged accommodation. The goal was to be on the road. Curving around mighty Altai and Tien Shan mountains, surrounded by incredibly blue lakes, or simply running straight across boundless steppes. People accidentally met on the road were also the aim. Kind and hospitable like nowhere else, but also proud and raw, shaped by the hardships of communist era. Finally, the goal was to spend these few months behind the wheel, to fulfill the childhood dream of being on the road. So that I could make the time stop. So that I could capture everything I saw in a book.
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