Although we don’t always want to carry around with us, our memories – perhaps the most valuable of our existence – follow us wherever we go in life. But the place we lived in throughout our youth holds a special place. At those times that made us feel like it’s the epitome of freedom, places we went to, things we ate and drank are right before our eyes like it’s yesterday. That’s how powerful the memories we hold from the place we grew up in are…

Hassan Kurbanbaev calls the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, “my city”; embracing the good and the bad. Through the young faces in his photographs, he tells us that whether you grew up in the midst of change or destruction, you can create your own world on your own.

Walk us through Tashkent from your eyes…

Tashkent, the city of mine is full of diversity and keeps the heritage from different époques – from the ancient East in the old part of the city, to the Soviet past in the buildings of modern days. My Tashkent is most of the time my area of living, a place called Chilanzar, a South-west district. There are a lot of trees and high rise building everywhere, a multicultural place. It has not changed a lot from my childhood memories. It’s still cool walking around in the spring time, feeling the fresh breezy air and buying a warm bread.

Why youth? What’s attractive about it for you?

The reason I decided to make this project is that I suddenly realized that the new youth generation was born after the fall of the Soviet Union. And I was like, it can be a good possibility to show the modern Tashkent through the faces of these young girls and boys: the Tashkenters. It was nice research; not only to make a portrait story, but to talk to them and find out about them. Tashkent is still something unfamiliar to the world, and by this I wanted to introduce the new generation of my city globally.

How do you choose your subjects? Is there something you look for?

Yes, I consider photography as a possibility to research some object. It can be a place, a person, or something abstract. Photography has no limits in this way; today I strongly believe that. For example now, I have a plans to research different cities. After making the project about my city, Tashkent, I relocated for some time to Moscow to photograph the city and it’s creative people.

Is observation a big part of your creative process?

Exactly. Photography gives you a chance to observe some really cool things in the ordinary life. It can be anything with your own point of view. People like to discover the things that are observed by other people, and they suddenly understand something for themselves. So, by the observations we can learn new things and learn ourselves.

I still keep vivid memories from growing up in Tashkent – I was in the youth studio where we made short social documentaries. It was my first experience into the profession. I always enjoyed being a person who lives in Tashkent, and I want to keep this feeling.

My youth took place in the time of changes, in the early 2000’s. The city was changing; the life and everything. It was a cool time even when the life wasn’t stable.