Valeriy Kaliyev documented labor migration into and within Kazakhstan, which is a major destination country for low skilled workers from Central Asia, mostly from the neighboring countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Although their labor is in high demand, these migrant workers are often vulnerable to being deported, exploited by employers, or abused by local law enforcement structures.
During the project, Kaliyev traveled to nine cities and towns in Kazakhstan—Astana, Almaty, Karabas, Shymkent, Dzhetysay, Saryagash, Taraz, Abay, and Karaganda—as well as Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Kaliyev documented these workers at border posts, on buses transporting them to work sites, inside their residential quarters, and at employment sites, such as market stalls, cotton fields, construction sites, and strip clubs. As labor migration has a significant impact on both sending and receiving countries throughout the world, Kaliyev hopes that his project will resonate with a global audience and help to draw parallels with the exploitation of migrant workers in other countries.
Born in 1975 in Saran, Kazakhstan and currently based in Karaganda, Valeriy Kaliyev has been working as a newspaper photographer since 1997. From 1992-1997, Kaliyev studied at the Technical University of Karaganda and has participated in a number of photography and video master classes since then. Since 2004, Kaliyev has been a staff photographer for the Karaganda-based newspaper Noviy Vestnik (New Herald). In addition to Noviy Vestnik, his work has been published in a number of regional newspapers and exhibited in Kazakhstan and abroad.