The long arm of official censorship in Uzbekistan makes it difficult for citizens to gain a good understanding of what’s going on in their country. But on occasion, Uzbek authorities overreach.
On January 25, two hours before a group exhibition was to open at Tashkent’s House of Photography, the director of the state-run Academy of Arts, Akmal Nur, singled out works by two of the 12 photographers – Timur Karpov and Svetlana Ten – and removed them from the show.
Nur said their documentary photos of village life in Uzbekistan negatively portray the country, recalls Karpov. Nur had previously given his permission, so long as the images did not include any Soviet symbols.
“When we asked why he didn’t tell us before when we had submitted the images for his approval, he said, ‘I missed something,’” says Karpov. Then Nur’s assistant told Karpov that, as an ethnic Russian, he could not be trusted. “You Russians think this is your home. You don’t rule here anymore. You purposely show Uzbekistan in a bad light,” Karpov quoted the assistant as saying. Karpov’s mother is Uzbek and his father a fourth-generation Russian born and raised in Uzbekistan.
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Tashkent-born Timur Karpov is a photographer and photo editor based in Moscow.