Publisher: Sputnik Photos
Size: 17 x 22 cm (approx.)
Hardcover, half-cloth, edition of 500 copies, with a poster. Photographers: Andrej Balco, Jan Brykczyński, Andrei Liankevich, Michał Łuczak, Adam Pańczuk, Rafał Milach, Agnieszka Rayss, graphic design by Ania Nałęcka-Milach, photo-editing and sequencing: Rafał Milach.
„Over the course of the past eight years (2008–16), members of the international, Poland- based Sputnik Photos collective separately set out to survey the physical, political, and sociocultural terrain of a post-Soviet region in which timelines don’t always agree to unfold chronologically and a spectral Empire, a quarter century after its fragmentation, refuses to be consigned to the dustbin of memory.
In the process, the collective’s journeying photographers ended up assembling a composite documentary record comprised of some several thousand photographs geographically and thematically spanning the breadth of the former Soviet Union— images which have since been constellated together within Sputnik’s overarching Lost Territories Archive (LTA) project.
Now, the LTA itself has begun to serve as the basis for an open-ended series of Lost Territories exhibitions, photobooks, and site-specific installations, beginning with the Autumn 2016 publication of two Sputnik titles: Wordbook (LTA1), an anthology of commissioned literary nonfiction texts examining the social and political realities of life in the USSR both before and after its collapse; and Fruit Garden (LTA2), a photobook with a thematic focus on the psychic and topographical scars left behind by the Soviets’ unsparing subjection of an entire region to ceaseless clinical experimentation.
Lost Territories: Fruit Garden
Equal parts poetic requiem and forensic investigation, the Lost Territories: Fruit Garden photobook doubles as both a visual paraphrase and figurative parsing of the words of the renowned Soviet horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, who once famously declared: “We cannot wait for favors from Nature. To take them from it—that is our task.”
Initially a strip-mined cross section of the consequences of anthropocentric appropriation, Fruit Garden’s archaeological dig of a survey extends to a scrutinization of the doctrinal mindset underpinning Michurin’s axiom; and of the ways in which, during the reign of the Soviet Union, its repeated and obsessive implementation on a society-wide scale left in ideology’s wake a razed expanse of human habitats and psychologies, here represented by unseen tribes of damaged individuals, scarred for life by a regime’s dehumanizing regimen of invasive scientific experimentation, and yet doggedly clinging to some semblance of a makeshift existence going forward.“