Intimate Travel Photographs of '90s Soviet Youth

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Photographer Bertien van Manen took these bright, rich, personal portraits of people she met travelling through Russia, Moldavia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tatarstan, and Georgia in the 1990s. Now on display at Foam gallery in Amsterdam, Manen’s series is entitled Let’s Sit Down Before We Go. The title refers to an old Soviet custom — right before one leaves for a long journey, before heading off to a train station or an airport, they must sit quietly for a few moments and reflect on where they’re coming from and where they’re going. It looks like Manen has done this quite a few times. She made friends along the way, bouncing from city to city, home to home, capturing saucy teenagers enjoying a furtive smoke in an Odessa park at night, a young man huddled in an empty cinema in Novokuznetsk, and whatever scene effortlessly unfolded before her. Page through her captivating photo album in our slideshow.

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Vlada, Kazan, Tatarstan, 1992. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Camping at Lake Baikal, Siberia, 1993. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Lena and Styopya, Odessa, Ukraine, 1992. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Ljalja, Odessa, Ukraine, 1991. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Odessa Primorski Boulevard, 1992. Courtesy of Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Avto and friends in the Causasian mountains, Georgia, 1993. Courtesy Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Shamanovska, Bride, 1992. Courtesy Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Pjotr and his family, Apanas, Siberia, 1993. Courtesy Foam Gallery

Photo credit: Bertien van Manen. Novokuznetsk Cinema, 1991. Courtesy Foam Gallery