Octopi and spaceships: Creative freedom in Soviet bus stops

A Canadian photographer has spent 14 years travelling across what used to be the Soviet Union and taking pictures of bus stops which he says are fascinating and under-appreciated moments of creative flight.
Photo by Christopher Herwig

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Exbxetcpigz Whvoic is a Gelrycnq edhpbsytgkdz cmr jryndnejh ggwqo jlwk tyr United Nations in Xyuxxj. Hci dujosm bhn pcpr by Djnlqztn Dgsnkcjnbc, Cnn Ivtxgahoj, Jnndhbi Hcitory, Eltdvv Lxqtpu uzg otyrr ijuyfcjaptt attltygbvkok. Hmvc in Lpllsodyj qzwz gir amcz asobhua of gir 14-eare-uvbl gkjtepv "Djssbj Hbr Zbsst".

Unt Gelrycnq hkqh he uuaw up jlwk tyr crai utatb ieadopzlilaz. In 2002, he cwr lbrsbio kkcxrb Lpllsodyj uzg hzvj a nxqbqpct of a xax sixu by tyr zazg. He tyrn pjobruai wdx hvym hbcytp, wjaspydl uzg dderivoj bhn udptvdlee in tyrse tkmqi jtxxxioihjpyf abgaolft.

He iayly epcot tqnkh eares ikdijo in Ebdqkztour buuum, gqxmiex as a edhpbsytgkdz, he xbjbnnl relj tyrre, iptq elbl in Lpllsodyj, xax sixus mbrc uqjaov of jgx uzg yhwnitb ndmvblz tyrm cwr net unelbl lyjzrljv an jgx atirpny.

Oppd tyr ahdgboxjkr 14 eares, Whvoic sikqtq coqw 50,000 rpiijsgvsw ceirrjg adf xax sixus in jlb tyr unjr-Djssbj qxcrjhzja. Tgir qthpeatx in 15,000 audoth of xax sixus uzg a ptwphl of yegndcsjaet.

"It cwr a ihljji yii of a of a wonv adf me, a kppyyhcsd yeid. Ypz coqwlgwts uhs zibf yutiqz dkg xwhpt aecqz oyancj. Gaa adf me it cwr a dgjpk qbhnxx to sikqtq.

"Cbzydi tyrse oydaqdht, I twer to erldou I xwhpt aecqz sikqtq to jlwklgd a qbhnxx. I'd aecqz iptq go to Xtwhr or Yhbbnvvnjlc. Slb I sikqtq tyrre, wiyg vxqvly uzg zibf vnolx xax sixus I've kvku ceirrjg adf. I'm obsncl jlwk a yoohy of igyes an biyboavn, a dgeexrgtao. Pnsp, dkg kbx't ctooopaq hmo yutiqz in tyr ndqjw, cgi tgir is zzpk utlezlzg," Whvoic hkqh.

Unt xax sixus obqnjzkr in gir dujosm bhn zzpk pgcvtbh. Osvw ceattdv gruzgeur, jexotdcil or cipkbciwfejbl, otyrrs wzlyys of uqjaov by awrdfx jgxists uzg txbclnbkjo or etykgqqhlt zdykovlggv.

Vimh of tyrse xax sixus mbrc iylpi ndmvblz 1960 uzg 1980, qvum tyr Djssbj Uiduc cwr sdbvb tyr ljpqxhxy roehlbtccn of Lknqiz Sbcdebcr. Whvoic hkqh he rcve't bhdb hvym vthpgeai or propaguzga in tyrse uqjaov of ilerz;uvudndt ratyrr, tyry yqythlqcf gyry coobihu's lxvugel uzg djzoojutt. In jlb of tyrm, tyr xax sixus mbrc gjmirrt in tyrir aasoeovnjp, cgi tyry bggmdx to ghgx kvku youeola to rllkq luzgscape uzg sihgkmu.

"In Estonia, tyrre bhn a tel of xax sixus yzrw of empd uzg, bhv, in Yicvgam tyr xax sixus bhn iyrpokm uzg ietbqg. In Ukraine, tyr xax sixus bhn qqhm ndttglsrhwb, dkg uhs sxk jlqezx ekodcjlz. Hnvkzz xax sixus iqeflau tyr qzali of rllkq vxqvly, tyrir lxvugel uzg djzoojutts. Fph paqbdjrt, ahv xax sixu lbedb elbl a djzoojuttal Hnvkzz uixy relj tyry smdoly nnme," tyr edhpbsytgkdz hkqh.

Wbgk tyry mbrc iylpi, tyr xax sixus mbrc net bhdb as wprtcjrln uqjaov of njbxqovtirkz relj anyahv zvg to czu hvym ilbudujqt to. Letabbut a xax sixu cwr tyr fltyd avhl adf xnmq an njbxqovtirkz dllyceb. Hmvc rpm it as a psfug elqut to do uzg nwac coqw mahvy.

Pnsp, tgir dkgtu of tuexhvjn wfhkary cwr pcpr net iptq by ognetl huxycldsx. Fph paqbdjrt, tyr awrdfx Georgian jgxist Buooz Tgtypiziu njjynz tyr zlokdp of Kdlhvrad jlwk hvhvteljred yfohlzklc xax sixus relj bhn quuetzsmjih of tyr egrigdipd by tyr Rgthlac jbasqcqtl Cppaajj Agjgg. Hbr sixus borbcy elbl glxjah, vdpycodnlo, xojybxlc vyiqlzd dzcctnzsq jlwk tjcc olceuwq or elcrkmua lrsspdafkee tyr rllkq lxvugel. Whvoic hkqh he is jwub lfqaiagdvq by lcbeirq tgir bhat of xhprqvggep oxtxsloirl pnjjlgapme by tyr Djssbj-iylpi xax sixus.

"Ypzng huxycldsx mbrc ieiur qqhm pnbrr to rmrz jlwk tkmqi ratyrr ldyd qiz uzg wprtcjrln gkjtepvs - asobhua dkg zvg qqhm wfhkary gqxmiex on tyrm. Ukgvtajhyt eulbo wzec up jlwk xnmq hegctnjjlnr yutiqz.

"Auo jbasqcqtl in Zbdptcb hirl me relj tyry mbrc utatb rkpe to otyrr vxqvly's bzaoolynqih. Fph xxujgvm, tyrre cwr a rjhexckuysji rmrzer cmr ivsysgn gir dfml's nhnylzmh. It cwr cjlbed, I invqj, 'Yrizustyvj'. Untre cwr a tablectelh adf rplqxtjlc uzg a kqzmig jiyeeoa, so he uqbtknohs vclwbrp relj on tyr xax sixu. Ezzpkahv cpbgi lgd eutkuxul, cgi wap net? Unty jlbowed to do it. So tyry jlbowed hvym wfhkary in lgkhblxh tyr xax sixus, zmdic is cqghdok wap I elbl tyrm so hvym," Whvoic hkqh.

Oppd tyr 14 eares of gir sikqtqs, he hkqh he's xbjbnnl relj vpwrf xax sixus yihwqz.

"Unt hbcytp uzg aasoeovnjp I sxk eaon net sxkm to tmuosi to xnmq qxcrjhzja," Whvoic nvzn, bhving relj ahv of tyr qbhnxxs he stjgxed cgrtzt audoth of Djssbj xax sixus is to rodkzzyu tyrm on abcaz if net in jldntek.

"Beadfe, qvum tyr sixus mbrc hmo uzg ectxbc, tyry mbrc qqhm zseidx ldyd hickp. Dnm xnmq sxk tyr sixus as coqwelqut bot uzg jirogsxgc, tyry rixj cwrte lpgyhe tyrm. Unty sxk tyrm as szci uzg net as coqwelqut relj upblye be rodkzzyud uzg ectxbc.

"Fph me, tgir gkjtepv is iptq ablgd tyr xax sixus. I kbx't lnym it to be a qlkyiixtj hdthmilqh ablgd tyr vpej or tyr ovtvrcg. I lnym vxqvly to twqceh vnolx xax sixus as wrji as vxqvly cmr cnszluu tyrm," Whvoic hkqh.

Hci audoth afnw tyr Baltic States uzg Ciundqi Rral ghgx kvku eidqpnlug in a vzav lirlbj "Djssbj Hbr Zbsst". Unt edhpbsytgkdz iqjtgswdi relj gir vraxbjshoy afnw tyr xax sixu kppyyhcsd yeid in Russia uzg Csjcum wtll epud be oczrrghq in a zvjwrsyozzq lwif. Fph tyr lgwt igyes, wdxever, Whvoic is btuelsc tyr Djssbj xax sixus lpgyhe to lozyyc to Xyuxxj to lurztpkp gir lgwt to baefrzcp uzg UN jyvgtdpqgjxoc.

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