Originally from Norway, Jonas Bendiksen spent his early years as a photographer in Russia, documenting themes from the fringes of the former Soviet Union. In Kazakhstan, Bendiksen told the story of the communities who live under the flight paths of Russian space rockets launched from Baiknour, a launching complex. The rockets do not reach the ocean before they come crashing down, often falling into populated areas. Apart from the fear of having a spacecraft crash through their roofs (it happened regularly), the people in the area were plagued by the ill effects of the highly toxic rocket fuel. But some were getting rich from the rockets – the region’s scrap metal Mafia, who thrive on the high-grade titanium and aluminium alloys. Pictured here, a band of scrap metal dealers scan the sky while waiting for a rocket to crash, 2000.

I guess I'm a fairly simple photographer. There is very little hocus-pocus about what I do

Jonas Bendiksen
© Jonas Bendiksen | Magnum Photos

Jonas Bendiksen was born in Norway in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former Soviet Union, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). His sharply evocative images explore themes of community, faith and identity with unsparing honesty.

Bendiksen has made major bodies of work all over the world. He worked on many critically acclaimed long-form projects including The Places We Live, a project on the growth of urban slums across the world, and The Last Testament, which documents people who claim to be the Second Coming of Christ. Bendiksen became a nominee of Magnum Photos in 2004 and a member in 2008. He lives with his wife and three children outside Oslo, Norway.

© Jonas Bendiksen | Magnum Photos

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