Jasper Walter Bastian
A Road Not Taken, 2015-2016
In his series A Road Not Taken German photographer Jasper Walter Bastian portrays the lives of the people living along the border between Belarus and Lithuania. The border between these two countries, both previously part of the Soviet Union, once was nothing more than a little thin line on a map. People living in this area freely interacted with each other and bonds of communal life were strong despite national diversity. Families often intermarried, creating a common social identity. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the erection of the European external border between Lithuania and Belarus in 2004, many of these border towns were divided. The territorial re-alignment not only separated the two countries, it also disrupted the once harmonious lives of the people living there. Families were torn apart and spouses, siblings, and close friends now live an entire world away, even though their houses are actually only a few meters on the other side of the border. Those who remain in the towns along the Lithuanian border are now, for the most part, secluded and forgotten. The majority of the people long for the ‘good old days’, when the borders were open and the Soviet collectives were still in operation. These mostly elderly people carefully cultivate their traditions, while being forced to face the demands of changing social and economic conditions. Because of their solitude and the lack of urban amenities, they depend principally on what nature provides.
Jasper Walter Bastian (DE/US, 1989) graduated in 2015 from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund, DE.