Carolyn Drake is an award-winning photographer whose work seeks to subvert dominant historical narratives around overlooked communities and cultures.
This 2009 photograph, from Drake’s book Two Rivers, is of Turkmenistan’s Darvaza gas crater. Nicknamed “The Door To Hell”, it has been burning since 1971, when Soviet geologists set it alight while trying to burn off gas in an underground cavern to prevent workers from being poisoned.
While travelling around central Asia, Drake said that she began to realise a “vast number of histories and legends and faiths of the region are linked to the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers.” Those two waterways and their surroundings, which includes Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, became the subject of Two Rivers. The work provided an insight into life in these five central Asian nations, exploring the intersection of two systems: Islam, the dominant religion in the region, and its relationship to the formerly Russian way of life.