3rd Place, "Greetings From Kazakhstan" by Tomasz Padlo
Kazakhstan entered into independence with possibly the most damaged natural environment of all the former states of the USSR. The excessive use of water from Syr Darya for the irrigation of farmlands contributed to the disappearance of the Aral Sea, ploughing millions of hectares of fertile chernozem topsoil triggered wind erosion, which led to unprecedented degradation of soils, while the Semipalatinsk area became famous for nuclear tests and related contamination. For years the authorities have been trying to change the negative image of Kazakhstan, promoting among other things, its natural attractions. In Almaty, the former capital of the country, this promotion takes the form of sheets depicting landscapes of Kazakhstan decorating many construction sites. It creates a kind of dissonance, as Almaty is in fact one of the most polluted cities in the world. The crumpled, dirty sheets say more about the country than the originators could have predicted.