Up Close: Ice Fishers

Photographer Aleksey Kondratyev on the generations of Kazakh men who brave temperatures that often reach forty degrees below zero in the hope of catching fish beneath the ice.

  • Words + Photography: Aleksey Kondratyev

For countless generations, Kazakh fishers have set out on to the frozen Ishim River in the hope of catching fish beneath the ice. The Ishim flows through the country’s capital, Astana, a high-rise, futuristic city that was built virtually from scratch in the 1990s, when the exploitation of Kazakhstan’s oil reserves began. The city is intended to be an emblem of post-Soviet modernity and a hallmark of the country’s entrance into the global economy.

On the ice, the fishermen brave temperatures that often reach forty degrees below zero. They protect themselves from the harsh weather with salvaged pieces of plastic, patched together from discarded packaging or rice bags found outside markets selling western, Chinese and Russian goods.

Aleksey Kondratyev is a photographer from Los Angeles.

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