Danila Tkachenko Documents Abandoned Soviet Sites Of “Almost Inhuman Complexity”

Restricted Areas

In ‘Restricted Areas’, Moscow-based visual artist Danila Tkachenko looks at our destructive desire for utopia, photographing abandoned sites that once embodied technological progress in the Soviet Union.

“I traveled in search of places which used to hold great importance”, Tkachenko says. “These places are now deserted. They have lost their significance, along with their utopian ideology which is now obsolete.” Traveling throughout the former Soviet Union, Tkachenko photographed artefacts from another age—abandoned and decaying, frozen in ice and in time. “Many of these places were once secret cities, that did not appear on any maps or public records”, he continues. “The sites of forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came.” In photographing these decaying sites, Tkachenko points to the futility of our desire for constant progress. “Humans are always trying to own ever more than they have”, he explains. As history shows, such progress is too often tempered by violence—for people, and for the land, the good is almost always outweighed by the bad.

“The sites of forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came.”

Monument to the Conquerors of Space. The rocket on top was made according to the design of German V-2 missile. Russia, Moscow, 2015


Part of an unfinished space port. Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda region, 2013


Deserted observatory located in the area with the best conditions for space observations. Kazakhstan, Almaty region, 2015


Ruins of experimental laser system “ZET”. Kazakhstan, Karaganda region, 2015


Sarcophagus over a closed shaft which is 4 km deep – was one of the deepest scientific shafts in the world at the time. Russia, Murmansk region, 2013


Coal processing plant. Russia, Komi Republic, 2014


Hangar at the former firing field for biological weapons. Kazakhstan, Akmola region, 2015


Boiler house of a closed aerodrome. Kazakhstan, Karaganda region, 2015


Antenna built for interplanetary connection. The Soviet Union was planning to build bases on other planets, and prepared facilities for connection which were never used and are deserted now. Russia, Arkhangelsk region, 2013


Deserted observatory. Kazakhstan, Almaty region, 2015


A city where rocket engines were being produced in Soviet times. Was a closed city until 1992. Russia, Dzerzhinsky city, 2013


Former mining town which has been closed and made a bombing trial field. The building on the photo shows the cultural center, one of the objects for bombing. Russia, Komi Republic, 2014


Tropospheric antenna in the north of Russia – the type of connection which has become obsolete. There were many of them built in far North, all of them deserted at the moment. Russia, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, 2014


Former residential buildings in a deserted polar scientific town specialised on biological research. Russia, Komi Republic, 2014

All images © Danila Tkachenko

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