For four years, award-winning Ukrainian photographer Mila Teshaieva has documented the central Asian countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
All three are former Soviet republics, they all border the Caspian Sea and they all have huge oil and natural gas reserves. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the battle for control of those reserves, along with each country’s search for a national identity, has caused far-reaching - and not always good - changes.
Teshaieva's images are explorations of place and of the now absent people who made the places what they are today, and of the people who live there and have to figure out what to do next. From large landscapes showing abandoned oil rigs to intimate portraits of families making a home in unlikely and unwelcoming buildings, her photographs are beautiful, sad and hopeful.
Lake Effect's Bonnie North met with Teshaieva in the gallery to look at the photographs and speak to the artist as to why she was drawn to document those particular countries.
"It was a very strong feeling of watching their new society coming to terms with itself...It was quite unique for me to watch the process of construction - physical construction - of a new national identity. I never materialized this process before and it was strange, it was scary, and it was taking me," Teshaieva said.