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The Kyiv Independent
April 7 - July 1
Shepard Sherbell photographed the dissolution of the USSR with unrestricted access while traveling through the fifteen former Soviet republics from 1991 to 1993 on assignment for the German weekly Der Spiegel. The resulting images are sobering documents that illuminate the grim environments created by the Soviet state, and the dignity and resilience of the people who lived within them. Capturing images that ranged from poignant to humorous, and agonizing to hopeful, Sherbell’s camera bore witness to the legacy of Soviet totalitarian ideology: failing infrastructure, ecological damage, labor camps, corruption, and the relics of a failed Socialist utopia. In 2001, he published more than 200 of these images in the award-winning book Soviets: Photographs from the End of the USSR. In the introduction, New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Serge Schmemann wrote: “I know that time spent in… that black-and-white world that Shepard Sherbell has captured will stay with me forever. It is where I learned about the avarice and cruelty of unconstrained state power, and it is where I discovered the enormous capacity of the human spirit to persevere.” Today, Soviets remains an unparalleled documentary of the fall of an empire.