Imperial Pomp - Post Soviet High-Rise© Frank Herfort
In documenting a unique phenomenon, the German photographer Frank Herfort has journeyed to the most remote areas of the former Soviet Union. After the collapse of the regime, a strangely pompous architectural style sprung up throughout the new republic. It conflates the aesthetics of monumental Soviet architecture with the Western language of form seen in the twentieth century.
Frank Herfort has been criss-crossing Russia for the last four years photographing his long-term project "Imperial Pomp - Post Soviet Highrise" . Totally unlike conventional urban photos, his images of monstrously massive buildings with an overwhelming presence seem to come from another time and dimension.
As part of the project, Frank Herfort travelled across Russia and former Soviet republics like Kazakhstan, Azerbaidshan, Ukraine and Belarus. He photographed the country's metropolises with populations of a million or more. Some of the images show skyscrapers that appear to have been thrown down to the earths by the gods, set against sleepy, surrealistic backdrops. All these buildings have sprung up as if from nowhere, backed by the new financial elite that formed after the Soviet Union crumbled. There’s no doing things by halves here – these buildings are all about pomp and circumstance and making a statement.
In his work, Herfort adopts the classic style of architectural photography, working with a large-format camera. All the photos are authentic, have not been manipulated and they have been taken either during sunset or lighted up at night in order to emphasize the buildings' grandeur. The homes are reminiscent of outsized Soviet memorials. They evoke the longing for past grandeur and the current ambition to exceed that greatness.
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