A Potemkin Village is a constructed space built solely to perpetuate a version of reality that does not exist. Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer has undertaken a project that delves into modern Potemkin Villages — in this series he peels away their fronts, capturing what really lies beneath.
As mythology tells us, the first Potemkin Village appeared when Catherine the Great visited newly conquered Crimea in 1787. At the order of Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin, fake village facades were erected along the banks of the Dnieper River to hide the truth of the region from her. Taking this concept, Sailer has photographed a selection of sites around the world. His series eerily documents this odd architectural phenomenon; replica towns and city squares appear not in the English countryside — but in China, and snowy village streets are lined with houses that are only three dimensional if you look at them front-on. Sailer’s work questions the rationale behind these facades, and all those that exist in the modern world, by asking us to look beyond the Potemkin Village.
All images © Gregor Sailer