Soviet Bus Stops
Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig travels former Soviet Republics from Ukraine to Uzbekistan, Armenia to Far Eastern Siberia, and all points in between, in a decades-long bus stop treasure hunt across more than 50,000 kilometres. Uncovering the stories of the designers who built fascinating architectural marvels during the Soviet regime, Soviet Bus Stops is an ode to the power of individual creativity that would not be suppressed.
Architecture, like anything else during the Soviet period, was under strict centralized supervision. While art and grandmonuments were expected to advance the state narrative of communism as paradise on earth, sometime sthe benign bus stops were overlooked. As a result, hundreds of architecturally distinctive bus stops arenow scattered across the former Soviet Republic. Built by individuals who decided to follow their own artistic urges, they found a way of expressing local and artisticideas, in this small form. Their bus stops were built as quiet acts of creativity against overwhelming state control.
In 2002, Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig came across his first of these distinctive pieces of architecture, and has since pioneered a bus stop hunting trend from Kiev to Vladivostok. The bus stops he has chronicled represent an astonishing variety of original styles and types, from the strictest Brutalism to exuberant whimsy. Herwig’s resulting photography books have become international bestsellers and are critically praised as gems on architecture and cold war history.
Shot over a period of 7years, the documentary Soviet Bus Stops follows Herwig on several bus stop hunts, listening in as he seeks answers as to how these unique creations came to exist. Puzzled by their origins, and without historical records, Herwig tracks down several of the creators and finds inspiration and a strengthened belief that the special bus stops need to be remembered.
Today, cursed by thememory of the era in which they were created, many bus stops have been torn down or disregarded as strange and embarrassing. Few people see them as the phenomenon Herwig does. He considers them to be one of the largest and most diverse architectural collections in existence. Their rejection of established forms is key to this appreciation. Herwig’s twenty year-long efforts in photographing hundreds of bus stops is an attempt to memorialize them before they are all demolished.
Soviet Bus Stops accompanies Herwig on his unforgettable road trip, as he meets some of the humble and charming bus stop creators from Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Belarus, and Lithuania. The remaining bus stops represent the stories of people who created small acts of poetry against all odds