This Canadian image-hunter and filmmaker sublimates these underappreciated architectures in a photographic road trip through the former Soviet republics.
“Bus stops disappear so quickly. If I come back in a year, they could be gone, demolished or rebuilt. These images may be all that’s left in the end. I want to give them a kind of immortality.” This is the starting point for Christopher Herwig’s “Soviet Bus Stops” series. For thirty years, this Canadian photographer and filmmaker has been asserting his determination to find beauty and inspiration in all aspects of life. He has hitchhiked from Vancouver to Cape Town, crossed Iceland on foot and by raft, and cycled across Europe, capturing thousands of images of the world’s most remote regions for GEO and CNN Travel. The “Soviet Bus Stops” project, which began in 2002, became an exciting 50,000-kilometre journey through some fifteen countries of the former USSR.
CREATIVITY AND REJECTION OF ESTABLISHED CODES
In the shape of birds, waves, polygons, traditional felt hats, teepees… the structures overwhelm in this deluge of imagination and materials. Christopher Herwig immortalises these neglected jewels of Soviet architecture across Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Far Eastern Siberia. The result is two books (2015, 2017) and a documentary (2022), drawn from his photographic archives. From this variety of styles – from strict brutalism to exuberant fantasy – this image hunter reveals astonishing stories, born of his encounters with some of the designers. “Built by individuals who decided to follow their own artistic desires, they found a way to express local and artistic ideas, in this small form,” he insists, “Their bus stops were conceived as discreet acts of creativity against overwhelming state control.”