At the height of it’s power, the Soviet Union was an awesome force. Stretching across Russia and Eastern Europe, the USSR was a vast bureaucracy, an industrial powerhouse, a mighty military machine, an innovator in science and technology, and a brutal oppressor of both people and ideas. Then all at once the plug was pulled, the troops went home and the subjugated nations returned to self-rule, but the Soviet legacy was a lasting one. The regime remained ingrained in the psyche through architecture, sculpture and monument, through crumbling, abandoned factories and rusting hulks of decommissioned machinery, echoing through empty classrooms and blowing across the asphalt of deserted military bases.
Rebecca Bathory‘s fascination with the remains of the old empire began in 2012; a long-time studier of abandoned and decaying buildings, she took a trip to Chernobyl and it was there that the idea for a larger project took hold. Soviet Ghosts, a book of fine art photography commissioned and published by Carpet Bombing Culture, is the result. The process wasn’t an easy one by any means, and it took six road trips through Russia and the former Eastern Bloc over the next year to complete the assignment, including a terrifying gun-point arrest on suspicion of spying along the way. Her brilliant images, while ostensibly hushed and solemn, still somehow hum with the vibrations of long-ceased industry and the energy of a once formidable Superpower. Soviet Ghosts is available directly from the publisher.