A guide to the New East
Photography

Strangers on a train: portraits from the Trans-Siberian railway

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In 2012, Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobol spent 28 days on the Trans-Siberian Railway travelling from Moscow to Ulan Bator to Beijing. Over this period, he used a Leica M Monochrome digital camera to take roughly 1,000 photos a day, which he edited on the train with the help of filmmaker Sun Hee Engelstoft. The result is Arrivals and Departures, a monochromatic portrayal of his travels, currently on display at the Leica Gallery in Prague. "Working with black and white has alway been the most direct way for me to reach more existential questions," says Sobol. "In black and white I feel my images are not bound to a specific location or time. They create their own universe." His portraits of Russians are distinctly intimate and his use of the grey scale imbues his images with a painterly touch. "I never found it interesting to look at someone from the other side of the street or to be 'invisible' as a photographer," says Sobol. "I hope this is the reason why people never feel like a voyeur looking at my images — because you feel that you are taking part. To me, this is when images grow from showing to being. This is when pictures are not telling a story about 'them' but 'us'." Arrivals and Departures runs until 8 September at the Leica Gallery in Prague.

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