Soviet Innerness

Elena Amabili + Alessandro Calvaresi started a survey of the Soviet presence in Western Europe, described in this ongoing project, to find the traces of life behind the architecture remains.

Elena Amabili + Alessandro Calvaresi, Soviet Innerness
The first, rough idea of the project came across the photographers minds in summer 2014 while taking photographs in a derelict Plattenbau in Irbene ghost town, Latvia.
The settlement was a closed city connected to the nearby secret radar center, hosting soviet military officers (and their families, hence the infrastructures) involved in the base.
Who has been living there? What job did they use to do? Were they happy? And can people be happy in a Plattenbau? Yes, we suppose. So, we focused on the walls, because, you know, the way you furnish and decorate your home is kinda mirror of yourself – and yep, ours is obviously full of stuff from/about Eastern Bloc.
What they want to show is that there was life behind those gray concrete panels, and that life was often an explosion of colours. Coats and coats of different paint which suddenly explode creating three-dimensional shapes, polka-dots painted kitchens, giant apes washing their teeth sketched above the bathroom sinks or bright flowery 1970s wallpaper over layers of Pravda – those newspapers were actually used as thickener in order to weatherproof the cold walls but we like the symbolism behind it anyway.

There’s a long, continuous research work behind the project consisting of books studying, getting in touch with locals, exchanging advice with fellow explorers, plumbing the web and finally getting kinda Treasure Island map.

Every photo is taken by the same angle in order to give the viewer a certain sense of cataloguing – as if the images were part of a very special sample book, trying to save them from oblivion and (sure) destruction – and express an overflowing but rational perception of the unheimlich (disquieting).

Through Soviet Innerness, an ongoing and potentially endless project, we are essentially doing a research and preservation work concerning a world that no longer exists through the less considered perspective – the intimacy, the “innerness”.

Elena Amabili + Alessandro Calvaresi are both born and raised in Italy and decided to move together to Berlin in 2009. Alessandro is User Interface designer and Elena work in web content management. They travel as much as they can, mostly to Eastern Europe. They are interested in photography, interior design, urban exploration, socialist architecture and city planning.

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