Knicknamed Holy Bukhara, Noble Bukhara, Dome of Islam, Religion’s Pillar, Mind’s Beauty, Bukhara was the city of fire worshipers and the centre of the Persian rennaissance and Islamic science. The town welcomed various religions such as Zoroastriasm, Shiite and Sunni Islam, Orthodox and Catholic churches, Buddhism, and Judaism. With populations such as the Greeks, Persians, Mongols, Arabs, Russians and cultures such as the Chaybanide, Djanide, Manghit and Oongrat dynasties.
Bukhara is stuck in time, being one of the Orient’s most secluded and best preserved towns. A place of fantasy where Alice in Wonderland would have felt at home.
All the images in this body of work are set up. The places in the photographs were chosen for their historical value such as the Palace of the last Emir of Bukhara, or Kalon mosque and tower, the jewelers bazaar and the town’s grand bazaar. Ravshana Kurkova, who figures in each image, is the last of a line of famous Uzbek actors and is one of the new up and coming Russian / Uzbek film stars.
Each scenario has a link to Bukhara’s past or present. When Ravshana is carried by soldiers infront of Kalon tower it is in reference to Emir Abd Allah who entered the town carried by his soldiers sitting on a carpet when he came to power in 1583. The photograph of Ravshana playing with fire refers to Bukhara’s Zoroastrian fire worshipping period introduced in 329 by Alexander the Great. In reference to contemporary Bukhara, Ravshana undresses infront of a young policeman in his office. In this muslim society where the woman should hide her sexuality he is intimidated by her nerve. Here the power roles are inversed and the much feared police authority is made fun of.Born in England in 1972, Rip Hopkins studied industrial design at ENSCI (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) in Paris. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) he has made photoreportages and documentaries in numerous countries including South Sudan, Bosnia, Liberia, Uganda, Ingushetia, and East Timor. He joined Agence VU in 1996 and the following year received the Mosaïque Scholarship, the Kodak Young Photo-Reporter Award, the Observer Hodge Award and the Monographies Prize. In 2000, he was awarded the Fondation Hachette Scholarship to pursue his photographic work in Tajikistan. This led to his receiving the 2002 Fondation HSBC Award and the publication of Tajikistan Weaving (Actes Sud Editions). His book Displaced (Textuel Editions 2004) was produced with the support of the FIACRE Scholarship.
Hopkins started photography when he was ten years old. It is his way of recording and documenting moments of his life and those of others. He sees photography as a tool presenting vast possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic expression. He combines his personal art work with the necessity of making a living, thus drawing on various means of support such as exhibitions, books, press work and films. This produces an on-going cycle: if a person sees a photograph then they know that it exists, so they can buy it, so the photographer can produce work and survive. And so what is a photographer exactly? Ethnographer, artist, advertiser, teacher, crook, journalist, artistic director? Few professions are so diverse and so vague. A photographer is constantly confronted with questions such as: what is an image today? How long will it survive? How should it be made? Who wants it? What technique should be used? Should there be a point of view or a stand point? With each new project Rip asks himself these questions again and re-evaluates his role in today’s world.
Rip Hopkins is a member of Agence Vu and is represented by Galerie Le Réverbère and by LT2 for advertising.