New East Digital Archive

Building sight: pictures of a post-Soviet city in flux

In A Model for a City photographer Petr Antonov studies Moscow as the perfect example of a post-Soviet urban environment. The streets, buildings, cars and people captured by his camera are isolated from their everyday purposes and work like visual elements of the cityscape. "Historically, Moscow is the archetype and model for any other city within the Russian cultural space," says Antonov. "But it also acts as the place where changes in the cultural landscape become most pronounced and are visible with special acuteness." Antonov successfully captured the change so typical for most post-Soviet cities: newly built high-rises and faceless malls emerging on the horizon, ugly signage and never-ending building works. Instead of leaving these details out, he puts them at the centre of his pictures, creating a balanced, almost academically unbiased view of the city. We usually see Moscow from a pedestrian’s perspective or from a car window, but Antonov's emotionless, distanced gaze allows us to look at the city slightly from the side, as if it was a diorama rather than a real place.

16 October 2014