The current policy and polls designate to keep Zheleznogorsk closed. This ideal of secrecy forms the starting point for this series of photographs. Rather than revealing something of the city, these images show the impenetrable zone around it – a landscape of burnt earth and illuminated hills. The reality in the photographs seems almost drawn, like a sketch or fantasy image.
inkjet print on dibond, 110 x 170 cm
Hinterland forms part of the multi-annual project Proyekt Z
Proyekt Z.is a long-term project about the closed city of Zheleznogorsk in the heart of Siberia, Russia. Founded during the Cold War to secretly produce plutonium and missiles and to outrun the atomic power of the American adversary, Zheleznogorsk was also a utopian model city. For those allowed to work there, the hidden city held the promise of realising the socialist ideal. In contemporary times the city is no longer secret but stays inaccessible as the largest still closed city in the Russian Federation. With my camera, I have been circling around this impenetrable place for years. The city takes on Kafkaesque traits as I never gain access, like K the land surveyor in Kafka’s The Castle. Zheleznogorsk becomes therefore a space onto which I project my desires and speculations. Is it conceivable that a place exists, or has existed, where socialism has succeeded? Could something of the relevance of the original socialist utopia persist? Or are socialist ideals unreachable?