A guide to the New East
Photography

Far away so close: polaroid scenes from a would-be utopia

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For Moscow-based artist Kirill Savchenkov, the suburbs are a place both mythical and real, existing in utopian visions and childhood memories. In his Polaroid series Atlas, he merges snapshots from real cities — Kiev, Yalta, St Petersburg and Moscow — to create an idealised picture of Soviet sleeping quarters from the 1980s. The project consists of more than 100 polaroids and a book so far. "I tried to gather together what could be that ideal district as I saw it in my memories and dreams from when I was young,” he says. Communist- and post-Soviet-era suburbs, with their monolithic blocks of flats are a central theme in Savchenkov's work. A recent performance piece took place in the Moscow suburb of Yasenevo where he gave a walking tour to a group of visitors — connecting personal stories with the geography and history of the site. "The place where I was born was near to a forest and a river, and the underground station was surrounded by blocks-of-flats standing in a wide field like megaliths,” he says. “I’m gradually getting closer to bringing to life the memories in my head."

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