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Past Future

Set of photographs showing the territory of Kazakhstan, the capital Astana (in 2019-2022 it was named Nur-Sultan), the area along Lake Aral, and the city of Baikonur in the adjacent space complex of the same name in the southwest of the country. This steppe area was chosen by the Soviet Union after World War II as the ideal location for a space and military-ballistic headquarters. Vast tracts of barren saline land were occupied and still serve as a base for space rocket launches.

These, for example, still carry supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Originally a classified spaceport site made available after the collapse of the USSR until the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, it was an adventurous destination for space enthusiasts, especially from wealthier Western countries. Here, space heritage meets Islamic culture in the "Great Steppe", as Kazakhstan is nicknamed, and the theme of the relationship between heaven and earth is varied in the form of endless intersecting verticals and horizontals. Thus, contrasts resulting from the modern dualism of politics and religion erupt across the Kazakh landscape and architecture. The "sanctuaries" of these power structures are separated by thousands of years, yet they are strikingly similar. They exist side by side in a symbiosis of a kind of "former future," which will actively last until the Russian Federation builds its Vostochny Cosmodrome and, in 2050, terminates its space lease agreement with Kazakhstan.

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