“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” —Milan Kundera
This project is an investigation of the rural and urban landscapes of countries that were once occupied by the Soviet Union. The photographs fall into three main groups. The first set of images documents the fate of the discarded communist monuments that once stood throughout the region. Today they can be found stored behind buildings or gathered in private parks. Placed safely away from public view, their power to intimidate has been stripped from them.
The second group of images depicts the location where statues of Lenin and Stalin once stood. These photographs seem to portray obscure public squares or city parks, but to some local inhabitants, these spaces are still charged with a much more powerful significance. 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 United States is also beginning to wrestle with as the debate over removing confederate monuments takes shape. The final group focuses on the crumbling infrastructure of secret spaces that were used to maintain power. Bunkers often become nightclubs, while missile silos are left to erode in the landscape. These structures serve as physical reminders of the rapid pace at which regime change often occurs.
Together, these images tell the story of how different societies and local governments seek to control their 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 the way our history, and even our memory, is shaped by human intervention.