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copyright bruce haley 2003




The photographs in this series are part of a massive ten-year “post-communist” project that ranges broadly across the landscape and people of countries once contained within the former Soviet Union, or trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The panoramic industrial images seen here were photographed in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, in a number of different countries and at many different sites within those countries. They are meant to be viewed as a series, and as such are purposely presented with no identifying captions to localize them; the mindset behind these communist-era constructions was one that cut across all borders and ethnic divisions, and I wish these images to be absorbed in the same manner.

As can be imagined, obtaining access to these sites was often a nightmare. Bureaucratic hurdles and red tape were the norm, as were mind-numbing days of meetings and explanations of my project. In many cases, after all of this, I was still denied access, and often. On one occasion I entered a huge site where I had already been given permission to photograph, only to find myself immediately surrounded by armed guards and unceremoniously ejected - obviously, someone had changed their mind. Bribery worked in some places, as did subterfuge and just plain sneakiness in others - but I would not recommend this course of action to others, as many of these sites (even those that appear to be completely abandoned) are often fiercely watched by thug-like guards with Kalashnikovs and truncheons, who act as if the communist era was still in full force.

But to be in one of these places is to be instantly transported into some post-apocalyptic film set, where one is haunted by the ghosts of thousands of workers, and enveloped by rust and decay, dripping pipes and machines, bullet holes and artillery shell breaches in the walls and still-active land mines littering the floors (in those factories that also served as battlegrounds), black earth and collapsed chemical tanks and pools of toxins and heavy metals and.......

There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
- T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

--Bruce Haley

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