“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” —Milan Kundera
The images in this series fall into three main groups. The first is comprised of images that depict the location where statues of Lenin and Stalin once stood. These photographs appear to be documents of obscure public squares or city parks, but to some local inhabitants, these spaces are still charged with a much more powerful significance. It is a place that represents a chapter of their history that many are still trying to forget. In some cases, the absence of the statue is more obvious, while in others the local government has gone to great lengths to transform the space. It is a process that the Untied States is also beginning to wrestle with as the debate over removing confederate monuments heats up.
The second group of images looks at where these communist icons are now. Often stored behind buildings or gathered in private parks, away from the view of the public, their power to intimidate has been stripped from them. The photographs document their fate as little more than destination points for adventurous tourists. The final group focuses on the de-militarization of the post-socialist landscape. Bunkers often become nightclubs or restaurants, while missile silos are left to erode in the landscape.
Together, these images tell the story of how society seeks to control history and influence the future through manipulation of the land and urban space. While some cultures go to great lengths to eradicate reminders of their unwanted past, others are willing to let it slowly disintegrate. Some societies even leave purposeful reminders of a painful past in an attempt to keep history from repeating itself. Regardless of the strategy, our history is recorded in the landscape. Each new layer tells an important story about our past, and ultimately, may even shed light on where we are headed.