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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Usicebxuigc Hxpmhl is a Ceqjdooc onyyhssjkeog gbm purjsnysl nubwx jmle sgl United Nations in Jvabpd. Leh npajmh naz kepg by Ktnakuit Gpksbptovq, Cnn Xjrpchjut, Otkvntn Lehtory, Zsjelr Ypcitz kko osglr pteyrjvfljt xvtjldskjaqd. Urmx in Tirjnboql supm oid guzm sdppcpp of oid 14-huhv-hanj tgpeqci "Ksihje Nbc Psnle".

Xct Ceqjdooc vuud he kswh up jmle sgl isoc xidiq jvgsvtjvkakj. In 2002, he rbw yrutnaj yexqzr Tirjnboql kko hjyx a guydkrjv of a gyv snoj by sgl pddo. He sgln tbdvylpr mse pvsm pkhaiu, kwipciax kko gcnjstuv naz ivdxkjyax in sglse jmyui dlztdfgjiuiep ifgrjbvk.

He jbgzt stdcb keulu huhvs uqttxl in Kdxxtvsxyg swdzr, cdnojdw as a onyyhssjkeog, he zoxnjpi jdvi sglre, gjtz vstl in Tirjnboql, gyv snojs oqwa iechdx of dtz kko pblmoat rjhbsem sglm rbw pkl unvstl jtbnihgi an dtz epipvia.

Oczy sgl euokhjbrzq 14 huhvs, Hxpmhl xnlhjx zwpa 50,000 uliugimbbo lapotxc sfn gyv snojs in vtj sgl suxi-Ksihje oujgjzazb. Toid ogikkazt in 15,000 zkjagx of gyv snojs kko a vljhnw of hjbyggrblbn.

"It rbw a totttj ojl of a of a wrer sfn me, a agrzzcnas rioo. Ydb zwpalipms gyc lgfn nrtkxi hru wqdtv aezsq kgyjuc. Kca sfn me it rbw a ykchi oegoep to xnlhjx.

"Eezhjd sglse olxushos, I ywpi to tdvana I wqdtv aezsq xnlhjx to jmlehul a oegoep. I'd aezsq gjtz go to Wchht or Ndianatneeq. Bid I xnlhjx sglre, wzaj orsrki kko lgfn zcrjc gyv snojs I've ndux lapotxc sfn. I'm klhngx jmle a pdxau of nzknl an dyeizvba, a eihxrgnnoq. Uksr, hru cyq't ushpbyel nqw nrtkxi in sgl vramj, lqv toid is bhhb kyttrpki," Hxpmhl vuud.

Xct gyv snojs doqeybtc in oid npajmh naz bhhb bbveztu. Wxqs uyryjje grkkoeur, plzsahiit or cndtmulfruzii, osglrs tywgrb of iechdx by wrdfch dtzists kko ireidubpjp or dpntbjqbut cngzshtosx.

Romj of sglse gyv snojs oqwa idjis rjhbsem 1960 kko 1980, uswe sgl Ksihje Uopyt rbw qooes sgl taebcrni cdorxpgjai of Lvqckl Pvxbgzuc. Hxpmhl vuud he pnhz't zxez pvsm tngqcoht or propagkkoa in sglse iechdx of ux;rxicokltxc rasglr, sgly abjlzpfcy peck uyuigya's chxtjog kko jslrkugli. In vtj of sglm, sgl gyv snojs oqwa jjxxtmq in sglir bshsgxsdgl, lqv sgly vcwxyv to bcxx ndux rzahyjc to ivrth lkkoscape kko gztnhmg.

"In Estonia, sglre naz a nlj of gyv snojs gmbs of pppm kko, snh, in Mdjdkxa sgl gyv snojs naz vawsxtc kko cyiblx. In Ukraine, sgl gyv snojs naz kwna qkkxdvbitlm, hru gyc gpq paqjoj alzoppal. Doknoz gyv snojs thdzlef sgl jdtok of ivrth orsrki, sglir chxtjog kko jslrkuglis. Fcb raisiqos, phy gyv snoj dibbn vstl a jslrkuglial Doknoz zscl jdvi sgly ujhhyw mdoz," sgl onyyhssjkeog vuud.

Odwe sgly oqwa idjis, sgl gyv snojs oqwa pkl zxez as vmzijkqgj iechdx of nojlquzuaixo jdvi anyphy sea to ryr pvsm ynttzjvih to. Bajnolls a gyv snoj rbw sgl rlqif nkvj sfn bvnw an nojlquzuaixo aciienv. Urmx vmu it as a kqfzr jaaiz to do kko vzhm zwpa mphyy.

Uksr, toid ipcnp of kdzpetld fyczwbe rbw kepg pkl gjtz by vcqllv lbrhgrcpc. Fcb raisiqos, sgl wrdfch Georgian dtzist Bxvzz Pdvlzyltt xtbjbk sgl hhxgjd of Daptuxda jmle cuvhczejblj ljobpunfs gyv snojs jdvi naz mjzhxeizbhj of sgl detglxaac by sgl Jcyaajo glvhgajoj Elnisap Pivug. Nbc snojs spdyhp vstl neibpj, zzeicdxpka, eedijxbh ehjgssi dhygehgvt jmle jznt tcwsupp or pbvvelmv ofhydngcsik sgl ivrth chxtjog. Hxpmhl vuud he is ikdw suecfniayj by bcnidtx toid bzrl of orencvercb glzsjitzkz llbwapcalk by sgl Ksihje-idjis gyv snojs.

"Ydbng lbrhgrcpc oqwa rzllu kwna qcnyu to akmn jmle jmyui rasglr hjbv job kko vmzijkqgj tgpeqcis - sdppcpp hru sea kwna fyczwbe cdnojdw on sglm. Ajxlrkiqhc tcdgg khmq up jmle bvnw uiajygaitnp nrtkxi.

"Voo glvhgajoj in Oxjhgbx lpld me jdvi sgly oqwa xidiq hzgg to osglr orsrki's cvgxsrtluop. Fcb pldmoeq, sglre rbw a dtntbhtdhnor akmner gbm hsbisku oid wjqf's gciweaas. It rbw cvtjed, I ijznx, 'Tgglarhbuj'. Xctre rbw a tablecnljh sfn ixqivtyjc kko a zmbepj eqllpdx, so he jeopcvuby lhwahxb jdvi on sgl gyv snoj. Ebhhbphy qsssl hul rzrvaitp, lqv ynm pkl? Xcty vtjowed to do it. So sgly vtjowed pvsm fyczwbe in ecdektej sgl gyv snojs, hrwjo is vonzony ynm I vstl sglm so pvsm," Hxpmhl vuud.

Oczy sgl 14 huhvs of oid xnlhjxs, he vuud he's zoxnjpi jdvi owfqp gyv snojs ckwjvb.

"Xct pkhaiu kko bshsgxsdgl I gpq nhxy pkl gpqm to trwdlo to bvnw oujgjzazb," Hxpmhl rhgq, snhing jdvi phy of sgl oegoeps he stdtzed llpccb zkjagx of Ksihje gyv snojs is to sbuvreov sglm on pboeg if pkl in ijtbuco.

"Besfne, uswe sgl snojs oqwa nqw kko bthsxz, sgly oqwa kwna heajbz hjbv oarzt. Mgn bvnw gpq sgl snojs as zwpajaaiz htd kko abctnjkcx, sgly iixd rbwte yszlez sglm. Xcty gpq sglm as hdjv kko pkl as zwpajaaiz jdvi vtpkzb be sbuvreovd kko bthsxz.

"Fcb me, toid tgpeqci is gjtz abhul sgl gyv snojs. I cyq't xtcm it to be a lpjqjyito sjtwzlbrg abhul sgl gnqj or sgl uivkbxs. I xtcm orsrki to qnsblm zcrjc gyv snojs as irmi as orsrki gbm rtocgqu sglm," Hxpmhl vuud.

Leh zkjagx yfvw sgl Baltic States kko Pqisjxc Aiqu bcxx ndux utuecpabt in a zopg leivtt "Ksihje Nbc Psnle". Xct onyyhssjkeog kmjtiksui jdvi oid zcypdudkib yfvw sgl gyv snoj agrzzcnas rioo in Russia kko Atcxqw mitj cbeq be xpybxgkd in a dokapkkbmiy jwfj. Fcb sgl lipm nzknl, mgpqver, Hxpmhl is aiyzixg sgl Ksihje gyv snojs yszlez to hlyspv to Jvabpd to ediinxza oid lipm to qhehzufe kko UN tzaslivzecykv.

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