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In a global world where even the aesthetics tend to be homogenized, sometimes what is unique and specific, is what makes the difference. Recognized by PhotoVogue, which chose him as one of the most representative photographers in 2016, Hassan Kurbanbaev, a photographer from Uzbekistan, gets inspired by his environment. We speak today with him to understand who gets to hide behind his camera. 
Hassan, your photographic series are strongly attached to Tashkent, the city where you were born and where you live. Are you planning to work abroad in the future? Or do you think that your work is so tied here that, therefore, it can not be understood without this powerful link?
It is true; I spent almost a year to photograph my city. It was a great experience to understand Tashkent better and meet new people, I really enjoyed the process. Actually I did not realise that Tashkent is so big. In general, Tashkent project helped me to have a clear vision for the future, what I want to do as photographer. I would like to study different cities and people, so yes I am definitely looking forward to move somewhere else for that. I like the idea of discovering new horizons for upcoming projects abroad and one day missing Tashkent and coming back to work here.
How is the life of an artist in Uzbekistan? What do you think of your city as a photographer, or artist in general?
Uzbekistan has a very rich cultural heritage in architecture, music, applied arts and fabrics, this is a fact. But if we are talking about contemporary arts it is still missing a better understanding, education and importance. We need private galleries and institutions; we need international curators and artists coming here to help young artists, we need portfolio reviews. Tashkent can be a great art scene and a crossroad for dialogue. So far it is not easy to develop a career as photographer. Unfortunately many people here still think if you are photographer you should shoot the weddings.
In one of the descriptions of your work you say that, although Uzbekistan celebrated last year its 25th anniversary of independence, Tashkent is still the city that most people in Europe or US never heard of. Are you the voice and the eyes representing a city and a generation that you want to make known to the world?
I’m sure that Tashkent still unknown. This is my try to show the city for these who may have no idea what it looks like or for those could have prejudices. I have to say that the urban side of Tashkent isn’t well-documented today, so I am glad that besides documenting the city I also did a project about young generation of Tashkent who were born after the Soviet Union collapse. I made the portraits on the streets. It was great to talk to them, I think they’re cool. For me it is important to capture this moment and share it with the people living outside and may have an interest about my region. Tashkent can be a new destination to discover.

Your photography reveals spontaneity, freshness, informality and a certain exotic and worn beauty. How would you define the Hassan Kurbanbaev’s style?
It’s not easy to describe your own style. Give me some time to tell you. I feel like it is still shaping. But let me say that in my work I adhere comparison and collation.
In your DOC series, you document your city. It may be due to your past as a cinematographer, journalist and your deep interest in social issues. How do you make the jump from which is rather a photojournalism work to DREAMS, something so intimate and metaphorical?
I don’t think that tashkent.DOC series is a journalism work. However I capture the real city, for me it is rather a fine art series. I see this series as movie scenes indeed, I hope people can feel it if they go through the photos. Speaking about DREAMS – yes, this is the opposite. Our dreams are something we can not describe precisely, they might be a combination of our imagination and life experience. If in DOC I study the outer side of the city, in DREAMS I show the inner world of mine – a person from Tashkent. For me it does not mean I do different genres. I like to study objects differently, in fact today I would like to move in different directions. This is how I feel about photography. 
Let's speak about your serie DREAMS. In it, you treat how the mind hides behind our bodies and how our bodies are governed by the environment. In some of the pictures you used combinations of fabrics to display faceless people. Fashion is one of the social mechanisms that we use to build our identity and our image, what interest do you have in this field?
You are talking about Autoportrait series, which I decided to inglude along with DREAMS. Here I studied the human being and how we accept personality. The word ‘person’ has Latin roots, and originally means ‘mask’. I used fabrics to hide the faces to show that probably when we obtain personality we may loose our identity. In the heart of fashion there are creative minds that are also studying these questions.

As someone who appreciates photography, what does visual beauty mean to you and where do you find it?
This is something that can turn you to a special mood and forcing you to create, or make you suffer and admire one precise moment. I think that depressing beauty can be amazing. In this sense we can find it anywhere.
What have you learned doing your series that you decided to keep taking photographs instead of retrieving your film work? Have you already reached the moment when you feel comfortable enough to tag yourself as a photographer?
There was a quite a big time between films and photography. Today I believe I made the right choice in favour of photography. Frankly, I missed the chance to study photography in University, so I’m still learning and enjoying it.
What are your dreams and your goals for the future?
My biggest dreams go along with the possibility to make new projects I have in my mind right now. I hope to see other cities and meet people to create something together. Also, I really hope that I will release my first photobook about Tashkent and for this I am going to collaborate with a talented graphic designer and art director from Barcelona.

Sandra Colell

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