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13.06.2016

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With the project Restricted Areas the Russian photographer (*1989) was one of the finalists of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2015. As the winner of the European Publishers Award for Photography in 2015 he now was able to publish the extended series in form of a book. His photographs of former Soviet restricted zones are symbolic images of a failed ideology of progress, where statement and aesthetics enter into a convincing symbiosis. Architecture and objects emerge from an undefined white background, without any context or meaning being immediately evident. The abandoned remains of perfection pursuit he found in abandoned, formerly secret places that were once important technology centers. They tell about previous scientific triumphs, but also of the failure; the human desire for utopia, from the pursuit of technical perfection of a perfect future, however, never came.

“I traveled in search of places which used to hold great importance for the idea of technological progress. These places are now deserted. They have lost their significance, along with their utopian ideology, which is now obsolete. Many of these places were once secret cities, that did not even appear on any maps or public records. Any progress comes to its end earlier or later, what’s interesting for me is to witness what remains after,” tells photographer Danila Tkachenko. Rather by chance a few years ago he found his subject: “One day, I went to visit my grandmother who lives in a closed and previously secret city where the first Soviet nuclear bomb was developed. While there, I learnt that in the 1960s, there had been a nuclear disaster but it had been completely classified. As it turns out, a vast territory had been contaminated and the people living there developed a variety of chronic diseases because of the accident. The first shot of Restricted Areas was made in this city.” Within three years, the investigation “about the ruthlessness of technical progress as against the human element – a particularly tragic dynamic since this search is initiated by humanity itself.” The special light mood is a conscious design element of the series. The images always emerged during snowfall or cloudy weather, so that “the photographs with minimal details to draw maximum attention to the objects,” says the photographer.


Danila Tkachenko
Restricted Areas
80 pages, 32 color ills.
30 x 24 cm, English
Dewi Lewis Publishing
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