Broken Empire | After The Fall Of The USSR | By Gerd Ludwig | Photography Book Recommendation

Broken Empire

After The Fall Of The USSR

Photographs By Gerd Ludwig

Text By Fen Montaigne 

Written by Joelcy Kay

Editor & Curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine


Broken Empire starts with a classic landscape photograph of Siberia (cold to the bones), followed by daily life images taken before and after the fall of the USSR.

Chapter One (The Way It Was) is dominated by Moscow and Ukraine images taken 1992/93 right after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. There are some images depicting a higher level of freedom and jubilance, but most carry a gloomy mood and dilapidated infrastructure.

Photos from Moscow depicting the haves and have nots tell stories of extreme opposites, where some splurge while the many struggle to survive.

The picture of what life must have been in Ukraine is depicted among the dead in a gruesome photograph inside of a filthy morgue with stiff naked bodies on tables and others on the floor (p.57).

You can catch an apocalyptic vibe on the harsh features of the miners faces while they sit around half naked and smoking (p.67).

Like soldiers, the chimneys of Lenin Steel Works line up; framing this surreal landscape telling an environmental story.  While the heavy smoke escapes from these vertical structures; fishermen drill the polluted Ural River (pp.70-71). On page 72-73 camels walking away from an abandoned ship on dry land where once flowed the Aral Sea.

Poverty is depicted in many images where residents search for items on wastelands and trash containers (pp.74-75).

A glimpse into hell, hard work and unsanitary conditions are pictured inside this meat plant.  And to think that the flesh tossed around this disgusting place will end up on a fancy plate (p.76).  I will have the homeless guys pasta instead (pp. 78-79).  

Eight children with congenital deformities (without half of their arms and hands) stand for this story telling portrait in Moscow, 1993 (pp. 82-83).

And here comes a Rembrandt moment, depicting Chernobyls victims line up against the wall waiting for compensation (pp. 92-93).

Five years later, life looks very different.  Most images included in A Window Opens (ch.2) were taken inside Russia in 1996/97.  Theres life and progress in these daily life images documenting moments throughout Russia.  New Russia offers happy moments, leisure time, family gathering, shopping, fashion and entertainment.  My favorite image shows a man almost falling from an agitated black horse in the water (pp. 130-131).

Right off the silver screen is the image on page 117, displaying a classic cinematographic scene; the soldier and his lover, lost in each others eyes.  Lit by the trains yellow light and standing by the door; who will disembark first? Is this a love affair? 

The Shape Of The New is the last chapter of the book, depicting images from many places in Russia mainly in 2001 and life looks good.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in how daily life changed over recent decades, communism, capitalism, photography, world history and Russia history.  With some intense images, Broken Empire is an interesting book to have around while entertaining, a good conversation starter. Enjoy!

For book specifics see below

Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR


Are you looking to have a published review of your Photo Book?

  Edge of Humanity Magazine’s curator is now reviewing photo books. Joelcy Kay (the curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine and the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY) has written many reviews for books in the Edge of Humanity Magazine’s Photography Book Collection and now she is available to write yours.  

Here are some of her book recommendations:


Curse Of The Black Gold

50 Years Of Oil In The Niger Delta

Photographs By Ed Kashi

Edited By Michael Watts

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine


Living Faith

Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia

By Steve Raymer

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine


Under A Grudging Sun

By Alex Webb

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine



Peoples Of The Omo Valley

By Hans Silvester

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine



By Edward Burtynsky

Photography Book Recommendation By Edge

of Humanity Magazine


Figments From The Real World

By Garry Winogrand

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine


You can choose to have your (Photography Book Recommendation By Edge Of Humanity Magazine) published on the Edge of Humanity Magazine or at the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY Visual ART Blog.  For more information on this new service please email Joelcy at .



 Edge of Humanity Magazine project.


The NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY is designed to connect art seekers and collectors with artists DIRECTLY.  The gallery is not a mall, but instead a collection of remarkable works of art that bring together artists and potential buyers.

Following Edge of Humanity Magazine‘s footsteps of publishing unparalleled content from artists and photographers worldwide, the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY is on a mission to provide it’s viewers art that is unique and diverse.


Written By Joelcy Kay – Curator

Every piece of art, crafts, or textiles, hanging on my walls or ceiling tells a tiny passage of my life.  Most of it was acquired during my travels.  Many of these treasures are damaged whether because they were broken on arrival, as the pieces were tightly stuffed into my backpack, or weathered by the unforgiving Florida tropical humidity.  But in the end, they are my precious processions and they are part of the stories I tell.  It feels good to have rugs hanging from the ceiling, masks on the walls, and drinking my morning coffee thinking of the mugs’ tale.  The point here is that art has a lot to offer each one of us; ART IS VERY PERSONAL!

The NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY offers that personal experience as the individual has the opportunity to buy the art from the creator and by doing so a new event to remember is born. When you hang the work of art on your wall there is a story behind it; an artist you now know and follow.  And instead of the usual “I purchased this at “WWW(BIG BIG ART STORE).COM”  the connection enriches the emotional value of your art piece.


The gallery is designed to connect the art seekers and collectors with artists directly. We offer artists a COMMISSION FREE / CONTRACT FREE online platform to sell their creations and engage with their clients using portfolio pages that are engaging with large images and a dramatic black background.

NO MIDDLEMAN is a boutique ART GALLERY; individuals browsing our archives and portfolio pages are relaxed, not pressured to sign up, agree with website terms, or maneuvering out of pop-up windows.

For details regarding participating in the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY please contact Joelcy Kay the curator at

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