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Zona - Siberian Prison Camps Hardcover – 1 Apr 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Trolley Books; illustrated edition edition (1 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954264843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954264840
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 2.5 x 30.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 707,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


It's official. The gulags of Siberia are no more. Solzhenitsin's nightmare of the absurd does not exist. The prisons are still there, of course, with plenty of customers, probably more than a million, such as the 15-year-old boy serving three-and-a-half years for stealing two hamsters from a Moscow pet shop, or the mother of four who stole 12 cabbages - what can have possessed her? - and was rewarded with four years in Siberia. So the inhuman lunacy still exists, but it is now officially apolitical. In reality, it is an economic social endeavour. It does not pay to be a poor thief in Russia, since you will not have the resources to avoid the interminable train ride to the East when you are caught. Carl De Keyzer took that journey to photograph the prisons today, with two army colonels as his shadows, one to the left and one to the right, he photographed what he was allowed to see, and no more. But he has revealed a kind of winter wonderland, a Disneyland where all normal credibility is suspended. Look, for example, at the tattoos in the photographs. "Where do they come from?", he asked. The answer came: "What tattoos? There are no tattoos. They are illegal". So they don't exist.

It has been said that the collective memory is black and white. In "Zona", De Keyzer has elaborated on the brocaded fantasy of the Siberian prisons by using brilliant colour, as if from a hallucinatory dream. Look at the faces, and then the eyes, of the prisoners. There is a Zen despair there, as if they were wearing lederhosen in a remarkable holiday camp. They tell a disturbing story.

About the Author

Carl de Keyzer was born in Belgium in 1958, and began his career as a freelance photographer in 1982 while supporting himself as a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Belgium (1982-89). At the same time his interest in the work of other photographers led him to co-found and co-direct the XYZ-Photography Gallery. A Magnum nominee in 1990, he became a full member in 1994. By his own admission, his concerns currently rest with societies that are symptomatic of a changing world, as demonstrated by his work in India, his books on the collapse of the USSR and how Russia is now coming to terms with the post-Soviet world and, more recently, power and politics in the contemporary world treated in a series of large-scale tableaux. His commitment to in-depth reportage does not come without cost. He contracted TB during his first visit to Siberia for his book on the prison camps (Zona, Trolley, 2003), and returned heavily dosed with antibiotics. "Unfortunately you can refuse a girl, but to refuse a vodka is the worst of social evils. I had a hard time of it." De Keyzer, whose work is regularly exhibited in European galleries, is the recipient of a large number of awards including the Book Award from the Arles Festival, the W. Eugene Smith Award (1990) and the Kodak Award (1992). He has lectured widely in the US and Europe.

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18 August 2007
Format: Hardcover
5 people found this helpful
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25 August 2010
Format: Hardcover
One person found this helpful
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
A. Braga
5.0 out of 5 starsan exhibition that lasts
7 November 2011 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
2 people found this helpful.
Aaron T. Pultz
5.0 out of 5 starsA realistic look into the current Siberian prison experience
18 March 2005 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
6 people found this helpful.

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