A350 (Kazakhstan) Janaozen – southern part of the village (map)
Friday, 3 July 2015
A woman comes up to me. She is a good 30 years old, weights a good 100 kilos, and wears a white blouse with laces. She speaks to me. I cannot comprehend her words – but I do understand the creases of puzzlement on her sweaty face: «What are you doing there?» What would I reply if I could speak Russian? Why am I photographing calves that are standing at a defunct petrol station? Because the picture appears to me to be right out of a Mad Max film? Because I have never before seen such a запра́вка? Because the scene reminds me of the stall in Bethlehem, and I imagine the crib with the infant Jesus placed next to the petrol pump? Because the idea that the rusty petrol tap can spout drops of Spiritus sanctus amuses me? Because the sluggish naturalness of the calves appears to fit neatly in with the extinct mobility of this place? Because it amuses me to contrast the expressions «Fatten» und «Fill Up» against each other? Is there an answer that she might comprehend? I know no Russian. She jerks the shoulders. Both of us smile. She walks off. Not knowing the language can also be a freedom. But is it the liberty of the foreigner, the fool – or, is it the freedom of the calf that does not need to explain why it is standing around at a petrol station?
First Publication: 27-7-2015