Salt Lake City, UT
For over a decade, Utah native Ian Booth has roamed the globe documenting people, architecture, and landscapes of obscure and enigmatic places. From the streets of Flores in Guatemala to the state of Goa in India, and from the island of Matupit in Papua New Guinea, to the outskirts of Abomey in Benin, Booth’s photography captures raw, unconventional, and often mischievous visual narratives of lived experience.
In his first museum solo exhibition, Booth presents a series of photographs from his recent travels in Kazakhstan. Taking its title from the Soviet Union’s agricultural campaign of the 1950s, Kazakhstan: Tselina/Building the Virgin Lands explores the cultural backdrop of this Central Asian country. A vast territory located in the crossroads of East and West, Kazakhstan is an amalgam of heritage and culture. With over 130 ethnicities, a predominance of Islam, a socioeconomic shadow of the Soviet Union, and a national desire for Western luxury, Kazakhstan embodies the interwoven complexities of a country venturing to preserve historical conventions while embracing modern impulses.
Throughout Booth’s visual travelogue, a mixture of patriotism and escapist sensibility gives a glimpse of how Soviet remembrance, consumer culture, and a new nationalism attribute to Kazakhstan’s utopia. Engaging the world with a childlike fearlessness, Booth’s street photography illuminates the vibrancy of a foreign place that is not unlike our own. By capturing intimate and unexpected moments of tension, pride, and beauty, Booth’s Kazakhstan: Tselina/Building the Virgin Lands offers unembellished views of daily life in contemporary society.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website