Results of the Photo contest “Migrants: An Invisible Force in Central Asia”


Results of the Photo contest “Migrants: An Invisible Force in Central Asia”

September 29, 2017

There results of the photo contest "Migrants: Invisible Force in Central Asia" were summarized at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in a solemn atmosphere on the eve of 26 September 2017. The competition was held in two categories - among professional photographers and among students throughout the region.

The exhibition was opened by the president of the AUCA Andrew Wachtel, the Head of the IOM office in Almaty/ Deputy Regional Coordinator for Central Asia - Tatyana Hadjiemmanuel, Deputy Chairman of the State Migration Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic  Almazbek Asanbayev, representatives of the Embassies of different countries and others.


Winners among the professionals were the documentary photographer Elyor Nematov (1st winner, Uzbekistan), photojournalist Didor Sadulloev (2nd winner, Tajikistan) and photographer-designer Diana Mindubaeva (3rd winner, Uzbekistan). Out of all the winners, only Elyor Nematov was able to come to the exhibition in Bishkek.

There were no winners from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in this nomination.

By the way, all three of the best have experienced the migrant life themselves: they lived and worked in a foreign country, having higher education behind their shoulders, worked as cooks, traders, porters, etc. There is the story of a separate family behind each photo. Of those who went to work, and of those who stayed home in anticipation of their return. Plots are lived and felt by the photographers themselves. Therefore, these photo stories touch, evoke emotions, cause thoughts, questions and discussions.

“There is a big story of one family behind each photo. This is not just the work of the artist. This is a documentary project, a huge team work. Minimum of 50-60 people: activists, human rights activists, ordinary migrants, fellow journalists, the legendary human rights organization Memorial, Civic Assistance and other Russian NGOs stay behind this work. They did not help me, they did all the work with me. Without them, there would not have been these photos. I came to families of labor migrants many times, many of them became my friends, " - said Elyor Nematov, documentary photographer.

Both winners in the student category are from Kyrgyzstan: 1st winner - Almazbek Duishebaev, AUCA student; 2nd winner - Rakhat Sagynbek kyzy, student of the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy.

The problem of migration is particularly relevant for Kyrgyzstan. We live for the money sent from labor migrants. And for 27 years this outflow has not being decreased. Through my photos I wanted to draw attention to this - it is necessary to stop this flow of migrants. People think of Kyrgyzstan as that we are only laborers. But a migrant does not mean "uneducated." Among our migrants there are a lot of creative people, people with higher education, people speaking several languages. However, because of bad economic situation in country they are forced to work abroad. This problem has also touched my family. My brother is a migrant, he worked in Moscow. There I made my photos, which I sent to the contest, - the winner of the contest among students Almaz Duishebaev said.

Photo exhibition is movable. It has already been to Almaty and Astana (Kazakhstan). It will stay for two weeks in Bishkek, so that the citizens could have the opportunity to see the heartfelt photo stories of our migrants with their own eyes. Then - it will go to Dushanbe  and a number of other big cities of Central Asia.

 All those who wish to see it in Bishkek, can do it only before October 13 in the new campus of AUCA at: Aaly Tokombaeva, 7/6. Admission is free (you only need to have a document proving your identity).


Additional information

The contest was announced by the International Organization for Migration in Central Asia (IOM in Central Asia) in partnership with the Tian Shan Policy Center (TSPC) of AUCA in the spring of this year.

Works were accepted from all countries of Central Asia. All the photographs are accompanied by small texts from the authors of the works - the stories of migrants about their life away from the Motherland. The competition was held in two categories - among professional photographers and artists (1) and among students (2). During the summer, the jury decided the winners. As a result, 5 winners were selected - three from among professional photographers and two winners among students.

At the event you can see more than 40 of the best works of the contestants.

Writers Nafisa Abdullaeva and Yermek Tursunov wrote their stories to the photos especially for this competition. They created their own small art works, inviting their experience and imagination, without reading the texts of photographers, seeing only the photos and not knowing the people depicted on them.

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