Jonas Bendiksen is Norwegian and was born in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving to 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). Bendiksen has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and second place in the Daily Life Stories for World Press Photo, as well as first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His documentary of life in a Nairobi slum, Kibera, published in the Paris Review, won a National Magazine Award in 2007.
Satellites is a fascinating seven-year photographic journey takes viewers through the countries and enclaves once held in orbit by the immense gravity of Moscow, the nucleus of the Soviet empire. Now each region is on its own in a chaotic political environment, sometimes without diplomatic recognition from neighbors, much less the international community. Abkhazia, an unrecognized country on the Black Sea, was once the natural pearl of the empire, where bellicose generals and productive factory managers came to relax. The spacecraft crash zones between Russia and Kazakhstan reveal a Soviet-inflected version of the entrepreneurial spirit. In Transdniester, a breakaway region of Moldova that survives by functioning as a giant black market for illicit traffic in all manner of goods, from leftover Soviet munitions to bootlegged booze, Bendiksen was expelled on the grounds that he was a “protagonist in an international spy ring.” Below hauntingly beautiful and often arresting color photographs unsentimentally reveal the often grim circumstances in these half-forgotten regions, uniformly poor and polluted, and often politically unstable.
Jonas Bendiksen editorial clients include National Geographic, Geo, Newsweek, the Independent on Sunday Review, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Telegraph Magazine, and the Rockefeller Foundation.