Siberian Prison Camps.
Photographs by Carl De Keyzer.
Trolley, London, 2003. 160 pp., 90 color illustrations, 12x8½".
The photographic work of Carl de Keyzer (Magnum, 1994) is a rare brand of documentation infused with a literary sensibility. The subject matter is former Soviet gulags in Siberia presently maintained as state prison camps. The names, such as Krasnoyarsk, Sosnovobosk, and Novobirusinsk, are as harsh sounding as the -50 degree reality of wintertime. De Keyzer is not clandestinely searching for 20th century atrocities hidden from the public eye. Rather, through a diplomatic demeanor and wily tenacity he manages to convince the military generals who run the various camps to allow him to photograph the daily rituals of prison life in all their melancholic absurdity. Trolley, the small but energetic publishing house based in London, needs to be commended here as well. The great majority of titles published by this young company address the trials and difficulties of the human condition, often extreme situations. They consistently marry profound content to elevated, respectful design, producing photography books that are elegant, educational, and most of all, important.
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