"We are pleased to inform you that you have been accredited for participation in the Third World Nomad Games." The letter from the Kyrgyz Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs arrived late August, granting me authorization to act as a member of the foreign press with wide access to photograph the international tournament of sports set to take place. I documented and reported on these games–something of a cover to shoot my film throughout the periphery of the events.
In its opening ceremony, the story was told of Manas, the national epic of the Kyrgyz people, in which the hero unites the nomadic tribes in the valleys and pastures of the Tian Shan mountains. Behind this classical story was a new and ongoing narrative of a country seeking to establish and project a modern national identity by bringing the world to participate in regional sports and heritage.
These photographs look to tell a little of that long tale, from kinship with horses, to nomadic culture, collectivization, post-industrialism, and reclamation. During conversations about how the Kyrgyz were rediscovering themselves by learning from their nomadic elders, the primary lesson was always the same: how to "move with animals."