Snow Ghosts: Photographer captures skeletons of abandoned Soviet-era structures

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com
Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko’s series of striking images captures the stark remnants of Soviet-era architecture, capturing the utilitarian structures of a bygone era.

Tkachenko spent two years seeking out suitable structures across the former Soviet Union for his project, a powerful body of work that captures both the ambition of the Soviet era and the melancholy surrounding its residue.

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

Tkachenko tackles the theme by juxtaposing towering structures and equipment against dramatic bleached white snowy backdrops, enhancing the severity of Soviet architecture.  

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

The resulting images capture an air of abandonment and the suggestion of melancholy, in the wake of what the artist describes as humans’ “utopian” desire “for technological progress.”

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

“Better, higher, stronger - these ideals often express the main ideology of the governments, for these goals they are ready to sacrifice almost everything,” Tkachenko explained.

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

“I travel in search of places which used to have great importance for the technical progress - and which are now deserted. Those places lost their significance together with the utopian ideology which is now obsolete. Secret cities that cannot be found on maps, forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came,” he said.  

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

Tkachenko’s Restricted Areas exhibit will open in Berlin’s Fotogalerie Friedrichshain on September 15 and run until October 29, as part of the European Month of Photography Berlin 2016. The photographer will give a talk at the official opening on October 6.

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

The exhibition combines the artist and the gallery’s shared socialist past. Fotogalerie Friedrichshain was the former East Germany’s first dedicated photography gallery. In addition to Tkachenko’s work, the exhibit will feature supporting archival material and data along with artifacts Tkachenko gathered on his travels.

Danila Tkachenko Courtesy of the artist and Kehrer Gallery © danilatkachenko.com

Tkachenko received a number of awards for the series, including first prize in the Emerging Photographer Fund 2015 and the European Publishers Award for Photography, which saw the series published in book form in five languages. Restricted Series has featured in the British Journal of Photography, BBC Culture and National Geographic.

Tkachenko won the World Press Photo award in 2014 for his Escape project, the same year he graduated from the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia.