New East Digital Archive

Come undone: a last glimpse inside a Soviet-era Dagestani bazaar

28 January 2016

Photographer Kamila Banks was born in Moscow and has lived most of her life in the UK, but her family history keeps luring her back to Dagestan in the Russian Caucasus. “My parents were born in the Dagestani mountains and ethnically I am Lak, one of the many nationalities of the region. This is where I come back to every summer to see my relatives,” she says. “While I was exploring Makhachkala in the summer of 2014, the circular building of Anji Bazaar in the centre of the city caught my attention. It used to be a food market in the Soviet years. I was told that it was going to be demolished soon to make way for a new business centre. I’m fascinated by Soviet modernism, and I fell in love with the building over the short time. It’s not there anymore.” With a couple of friends Banks climbed into the abandoned bazaar with its empty sunlit halls and crumbling concrete triangles — a grand structure that recalls the remains of an extinct animal from a different era. In this series the new generation of Makhachkala is captured against the city’s disappearing history.