The Silk Road/La Ruta de La Seda

Alessandra Meniconzi, Photographer
Alessandra Meniconzi, Photographer Feierabend Verlag, Ohg $39.95 (256p) ISBN 978-3-89985-327-8
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For the past decade, Tessin-born photographer Meniconzi has documented the lives and landscapes along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. Navigating the rough terrain on her mountain bike, the intrepid, peripatetic Meniconzi has captured, in richly colored and carefully composed photographs, worlds seen by few Westerners: a circle of Tibetan monks studying the Buddhist dharma, two richly ornamented Guizhou women admiring the first blossoms of spring, five women grasping candles in an Orthodox church service in Kazakhstan. Journeying from the Bosporus to the Caucasus, Tajikistan to Pakistan, Meniconzi was welcomed by her subjects and gained entrance to their most private gatherings; she was often asked to join wedding parties, seasonal celebrations and religious rituals. Meniconzi's crisp landscapes evoke the late Galen Rowell's photographs of Pakistan, while her work in the Guangxi Province offers compositionally diverse shots of grandiose vistas. But it is her human portraits that fascinate, and the intimacy of these photographs testifies to her ease among strangers, as in a touching picture of a wistful Kazakhstan bride gazing out of a window. The large format book maximizes the impact of the full-color photographs, often by placing them against deep black borders; captions are found in the back, next to thumbnail reproductions. Some photo buffs may wish Meniconzi gave more information about the type of equipment she used, but they must content themselves with the knowledge that she""maintains a very modest range of apparatus. To possess more than you can carry and make use of is...a waste. It's something the nomads would never do.""
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