A Ghost City is a series from Spanish photographer Arnau Rovira Vidal shot on location in the city of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan while he was there to cover the Asian Indoor Games.
The series presents a surreal document of the elaborate gold and white marble monuments and buildings set amid the arid landscape that now stand empty and seemingly devoid of life.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in photography.
My father was my first introduction to photography. Even though he never worked as a professional photographer, he did personal projects and had a laboratory at home. I remember he spent a lot of time in the darkroom. As a child, I didn’t understand the reason for being inside a black room for so many hours, but now, years later, we can talk about photography and it’s quite amazing that we both have the same passion.
But truly my passion for photography started just few years ago. When I was twenty, I studied DOP at university and so I knew something of the technique but, two years ago, I moved to Madrid and I started to study photography. It was really shocking; it was like learning another amazing language from the beginning. So then I quit my job and I stopped working with video and cinema and started to do photography.
Who or what are your main sources of inspiration?
I’m learning from many sources but I can say that many Spanish photographers are amazing. We have really good photographic references here.
A recurring feature in your work is architecture and architectural forms and details; where does your interest in photographing architecture stem from?
I don’t know exactly, but I can say that I feel more comfortable photographing spaces and forms than people.
Your series, A Ghost City, was shot on location in Turkmenistan; how did this project come about? Tell us more about your inspiration for this series.
It all came from pure causality. A friend offered me a media job for the Asian Indoor Games that would be held there. I didn’t know anything about the country before that. Then, when I landed, I started to understand the kind of country I was staying in. My job was really quiet and you couldn’t do many interesting or cultural things in Ashgabat and so I started to scout and shoot all the buildings and monuments around the city by my self. It was a strange feeling to be walking alone around a huge monument in the middle of nowhere. No-one was using these buildings and no-one was on the streets; I try to reflect this feeling in the images.
Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?
I will fly to Florida for a while next month. I’ve been thinking about two different ideas there – I will see what I will find and if I have enough time to do it. I have also been working on a personal project for more than a year and a half which I will try to publish as a photobook.
Who was the last photographer whose work made you stop in your tracks and just say “Wow”?
A few weeks ago, someone showed me the work of Jason Fulford. Amazing work.
See more of Arnau’s work at:
All images copyright Arnau Rovira Vidal.