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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 Ж

Proyekt Ж is a long-term project about the closed city of Железного́рск (Zheleznogorsk) in the heart of Siberia, Russia. Founded during the Cold War to outrun the atomic power of the American adversary and to secretly produce plutonium and missiles, Железного́рск 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 a secret but it stays inaccessible as the largest (still-) closed city in the Russian Federation. Officially its population voted to stay in 'splendid isolation'. With my camera, I have been circling around this impenetrable place for years. The project took on Kafkaesque traits as I never gained access, like K in Kafka’s The Castle.

Ж became therefore a space onto which I project my desires and hopes.  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 sustain? Are socialist ideals by definition unreachable?