sabato 6 dicembre 2014


"I first learned about the Aral Sea growing up in Czechoslovakia, during the communist era. Our geography teacher taught us how the waters of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, two major rivers that fed the Aral Sea, were used to create opportunities for farmers and put food on people's tables. On the 1960s, the Soviet Union engineered a large-scale diversion of the two rivers. Since then, their water flowed not into the Aral basin, but into a canal system that irrigates cotton fields instead. This was, we were told, one of our great achievements. In reality, it was one of the worst environmental disasters the world has seen – the slow death of the Aral Sea.
In 2004, I decided to investigate the fate of the vanishing sea. Walking on the desert that is the former sea bed, the ecological tragedy becomes clear. The basin is nothing but a vast wasteland, covered by salt and pesticides from the surrounding agricultural fields. The incidence of chronic disease amongst locals is significantly higher. The toxicity of the environment is such that the maternal milk has been contaminated, resulting in one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Fish species have died off. A once prosperous fishing industry has collapsed. Many of the old ships still linger in the dried out harbors.
The world's fourth largest lake is gone. My body of work on the shrinking Aral Sea documents the impact and legacy of this complex environmental issue inherited from the former communist regime."
– Radek Skrivanek
Radek Skrivanek is a photographer based in San Francisco. 

Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Skrivanek moved to the United States in 1989. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and received his BFA from Tufts University. He has worked in a variety of photography-related professions, including darkroom technician; he has also worked as an undercover reporter documenting animal rights abuses. Since 2005 he has been an instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute. 

Skrivanek’s photography is in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His images have been exhibited internationally, including as part of the World Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain, where his photographs were part of the traveling exhibition Aqua, Rios, y Pueblos, a tribute to those affected by water policies throughout the world. Skrivanek’s images have also appeared in Lenswork, On Earth Magazine,PHOTOMagazine, and Photo Review. His work has also been featured on the web-based photography magazine, as well as on,, and other general interest websites.

All images © Radek Skrivanek 

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