‘Lenin Statue’. Digital C-Print. 40″ x 50″. 2011.

‘Lenin Statue’. Digital C-Print. 40″ x 50″. 2011.

Have you ever wondered how your educational institutions compare to others in the world? Ever ask yourself what educational institutions looked like, say… in the Soviet Union in the 60s?

The photographs in the current exhibition at Café for Contemporary Art in North Van depict the Artek International Children’s Camp, established by the Soviet government in 1925 by the Crimean Sea in the Ukraine. It is one of the few remaining institutions of the Soviet era. By 1969, it had over 150 buildings including schools, swimming pools, and playgrounds.

It was here that a group called the Young Pioneers – similar to the Boy Scouts – learned about camping skills and more broadly, ideals of the Soviet Union.

Michael Love, Bleachers: Atyek International Children's Camp, 2011, 101 x 157 cm, digital c-print, courtesy of the artist

Michael Love, Bleachers: Atyek International Children’s Camp, 2011, 101 x 157 cm, digital c-print, courtesy of the artist

As you walk through the exhibition, you’ll notice that the landscapes seem strangely deserted. The grandiose buildings projects of Artek, now ravaged by time, seem uninhabited, immobile and without a soul, without any clues to date the photos such as a person’s dress or tools.

The deserted spaces thus propel us to a faraway time and a distant ideology, under which the camps were used differently. The artist is interested in the distinctions and contradictions between the ideals of the 20s in the USSR, and the contemporary context. The camp is now used by Russia’s nouveau riches, with Soviet planning taking the back stage of this scenic location.

The exhibition ends March 30th, 2013.

Café for Contemporary Art is at 140 East Esplanade, North Vancouver.

 

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