« The end of the asphalt » is a point on the map, practically an address. In Vladivostok, you can tell the taxi driver "the end of the asphalt" and get precisely there. The locals gave this nickname to the place on Russky Island, where the new asphalt road, traced in continuation of the Russian bridge for the APEC summit in 2012, suddenly ends, and the old dirt road begins.
This nickname matches perfectly both : the actual description of the situation - the end of the new road, and the metaphorical - the middle of nowhere, the backwoods. The dirt road leads deep into the island, where there are a few small settlements and abandoned military facilities.
As soon as we cross the boundary, the landscape radically changes. We fall into the monochrome-gray pipe of the road: the vegetation along the roadside is covered with a thick layer of dust. The layer is so dense that rare fragments of greenery look artificial, like drops of color on a painted photograph.
If you look closely, the work is very delicate: dust enfolds the smallest veins of leaves, absorbs into them, becomes leaves. As if we were allowed to watch in an accelerated time how the ferns turn into stone. The world is fossilized before our very eyes. And it is difficult to turn away from this spectacle, although it causes mixed feelings: we are spectators of the intoxication of nature.
I discovered the "end of the asphalt" on my first visit to Vladivostok in September 2015. When I came back, a radical change awaited me. After a strong typhoon and a week of heavy rains, the dust disappeared. The road turned green and acquired a satisfactorily banal appearance.
I decided to find the places that I managed to photograph during the first trip, and accurately reproduce the frame. So, I got a series of pairs, with an interval exactly one year between the images: September 2015, September 2016. The pairing of images revealed cyclicality and permanence of this landscape, its constant “zeroing” and repetition.
This landscape is accidental, unprojected, not desirable, but it does not attract any attention, because it is intermediate. This marginality probably maintains it: it is not in focus. While in the foreground bridges are erected and roads are cut with great pomp, somewhere aside, quietly, the dust accumulates.
Badlands, exhibition view, ZARYA center for contemporary art, Vladivostok