I met the Sokolov Family in summer 2011 when I was traveling around the Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan with fellow photographers. It was very quite bizarre for the first time - a family living in a deserted Soviet military barrack in the middle of nowhere. There is just steppe and lake, and the house is surrounded by silence and horizons, being away from civilization. The area was part of the Soviet Army's major anti-rocket testing range called the Sary-Shagan Polygon, where some old remains of the Soviet army buildings are scattered around in the vast testing range on the steppe by the Lake Balkhash. The area was strategically important in the Soviet era, and there was good food supply and infrastructure at that time. But, after the Soviet collapse, the majority of residents left the area, in which some of the settlements were completely abandoned. The Sokolov family, who have been living in the Sary-Shagan Polygon since the Soviet era, moved to the abandoned barrack located about 30 km away from the closest city during the turmoil of the post Soviet era.
After the first visit to the Sokolov family, I decided to visit them periodically. I was interested to know why they had been living there for so many years and how they were living there. The Sokolov family said they live there because they have no apartment and no work in cities and they like to be on their own. However, they have no electricity and gas at home, though they had ones when they lived in an apartment in the Soviet era. It seems to me, in some way, hat the family are the living legacy of the Soviet Union while they are also the victims of the Soviet collapse. When I visited the Sokolov, I always feel that the time is frozen there. The family live so close to the nature. They are one of a very few families left in the former military settlement. The once-prosperous area is being quickly decomposed into the nature, as if no one has every lived there. I wanted to document the life of the Sokolov family because they seem to symbolize the fall of the Soviet Union and the fate of the forgotten Sary-Shagan Polygon. I plan to continue to document the project before the legacy of the Soviet completely disappeared and turned into oblivion.