In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union built an amphibious airplane designed to skim the sea, searching for US nuclear submarines. It flew, but the Kremlin scuttled the Bartini Beriev VVA-14 after a prototype crashed, the designer died, and a supplier bungled an order. The one remaining plane rusts away in a field at the Russian Air Force Museum outside Moscow.
That ill-fated plane is among 33 Soviet-era relics that Danila Tkachenko photographed for his series and photo book Restricted Areas. Many see them as monuments to the Cold War, a reminder of a time when the world lived under the threat of annihilation. But Tkachenko sees the Soviet Union’s aspirations and failures, and a rejection of the pursuit of political and technological utopias. “My project is a metaphor [for] post-technology apocalypse,” he says.
The series takes its name from the dozens of “secret” cities that housed the government’s most sensitive military and scientific programs. These cities were closed to all but the people who worked in them, and visits required approval from the highest levels. Many of them still stand today, abandoned and falling into ruin.