Arseniy Kotov’s Instagram account @northern.friend is dedicated to the fading grandeur and disorder of the post-Soviet city. What sets his account apart from those of other concrete buffs is his interest not only in imposing tower blocks but also the human life that goes on in their midst.
His photographs are never lacking in poetry: whether it’s birds flying through clouds of dark smoke billowing from factories, a giant toy tiger perching forlornly on a heap of snow, or the glow of the full moon reflected in the windows of a Soviet-era housing block.
Kotov started by photographing his hometown of Samara, famous for being one of the centres of the Soviet space industry. He then set off to rural Central Asia, where he documented the Baikonur spaceport among other engineering marvels and monumental public sculptures he encountered along the way. The architecture he captures may be austere, but the warm glow from windows makes the mass-housing look quite welcoming.