Boring postcards, USSR: a photographer’s road trip into the communist past

Photography and the Post Soviet City

Italian photographer Marco Citron explains how he created a Soviet homage to Martin Parr's famous Boring Postcards books

5 May 2015
Text and image: Marco Citron

Italian photographer Marco Citron is drawn to natural and urban landscapes. Here, he has appropriated the aesthetics of vintage postcards to showcase the idiosyncratic architectural experiments of the Soviet era.


I started this project in 2007, and spent the next three years photographing architectural landscapes in eastern Europe.

The idea was indebted to Martin Parr’s collection of published vintage postcards from the 1950s to the early 70s.

Parr’s Boring Postcards portrays the countryside of England, Germany and United States through vignettes of uninspiring towns, deserted buildings and disused petrol stations in the middle of nowhere.

Spanning three volumes, the book is a monument to bad taste.

The same subject of boring landscapes lies at the heart of my own project Urbanism 1.01, only mine is a symbol of the USSR.

What is it that we find in these vast, repetitive and often boring landscapes?

Is it a glorification or a criticism of banality?

I tried to explore this through simple, trivial and at times imperfect images.

I collected many original postcards from Krushchev’s 1960s but my photographs are all contemporary.

I took them on a medium-format film and spent a long time on post-production.

The project is essentially about the limits of an archive: in particular, questioning its authenticity.

Emphasised by the use of artificial colours, the thin line between reality and fiction runs throughout the series.

The photos were taken in Ukraine, Belarus, southern Russia, Moldova and Lithuania.

I searched the internet for interesting buildings before travelling.

I began my trip by visiting industrial cities in Ukraine and Belarus, where I was sure I would find what I was looking for.

It’s very hard to find this kind of aesthetic in Moscow or St Petersburg.

I really love socialist architecture and made a conscious decision to eschew Stalinist neo-classicism.

Book Urbanism 1.01 is available through Marco Citron’s website

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