Photography by Christine Armbruster
(Above) Located along the Silk Road, Kazakhstan is a melting pot where the East and West once moved freely. Eventually becoming part of the Soviet Union, the country exhibits traces today of Middle Eastern, Western, Asian, and Soviet influences.
Fascinated by the Bedouins, one of the oldest nomadic tribes in the world, I spent a winter living with them in caves. When Petra became a World Heritage Site, many of the Bedouins who had lived there for thousands of years were kicked out of their homes and relocated to the modern village of Um-Sayhoon. As the village became more crowded, the younger generations started moving back into their family caves to reclaim their homes and traditions. The cave where this man lives is estimated to date back to 400 B.C.
A woman sells birch branches outside of a bath house. It is tradition to bring in these branches to the sauna with you, hitting yourself or others, acting as a massage tool and releasing the smell of the tree. On the way to the bath house, streets in all directions are lined with people selling bath products out of their cars.
Children wait in line for cotton candy at a carnival on the outskirts of town.
Setting up his stand on the street, a man sells grapes and homemade wine bottled into old plastic bottles. With hundreds of varieties of grapes grown in the Republic of Georgia, the tradition of making wine in the home is evident on the street as vendors sell their homemade batches in anything from old Coke bottles to mustard bottles.
Children play near an abandoned fountain, close to the bridge connecting the divided city. Mitrovice is still in conflict. One side is settled by Serbs, while the other side is settled by Kosovo-Albanians. Both sides believe the other side is occupying their country illegally. Though war ended twenty years prior, there is still racial violence, resulting in a wall between the two sides and a permanent police state enforced by the UN.
With an education in commercial photography from BYU (’12) and a fascination with cultures, Christine Armbruster was once asked by her professor why she felt the need to travel so far and wide to tell her stories. The results can be seen in her projects featuring small western towns, her project Mortar Shells and Cigarettes in the Balkans, and her work across four Soviet states, among others. She has been published in AFAR, Outside Magazine, and the Utah Historical Quarterly, and she has worked for the Travel Channel, Airbnb, and Grubhub. She shoots between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Salt Lake City, Utah, but can be found all over the world at any given moment.