Curious Architectural Phenomena
March 18, 2019 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Gregor Sailer is an Austrian photographer. His projects include Closed Cities, effectively invisible, artificially created urban agglomerations that are hermetically sealed off from the eyes of the world either by walls or by their hostile surroundings; The Potemkin Village, haunting images of fake towns; and The Box, an exploration of small scale secret Soviet facilities such as design bureaux for weapons, aircraft, space and military electronics.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (8 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
see also, the Urban Hell subreddit
posted by growabrain at 12:09 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Extraordinary!
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:46 PM on March 18


> The Box, an exploration of small scale secret Soviet facilities such as design bureaux for weapons, aircraft, space and military electronics.

Is this an ongoing project? The only location photographed isn't Soviet at all, but located in Kematen, Austria. It's an interesting place—it was to have been an underground factory for the Me-262, but everyone involved in its construction knew it wasn't going to be done in time to matter to the war, making its construction by slave labor even more disturbing—but it doesn't seem to have much connection to the Soviets.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:09 PM on March 18


Hated that all of the context was at the bottom.
posted by Windopaene at 2:40 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I was about to complain about this new-fangled presentation of photography without context when I discovered the words at the bottom of the Box page. The photos are interesting, and in some cases striking, but I'm with Windopaene here.
posted by lhauser at 7:01 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Loved these photos
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:34 AM on March 19


When I lived in Shanghai, Enkigirl and I took a trip to a kind of fake Londontown in the exurban hellscape that exists near the end of any of the aboveground subway lines. It looked almost exactly like the image in the Potemkin Village link - the one with the red and yellow Hulkbuster Iron Man statue. It could even have been that exact place. Although it was intended as a residential neighborhood, it was clear nobody lived there.

Instead it was populated for the day by looky-lou tourists like ourselves, itinerant snack and trinket sellers, and a hilarious abundance of couples all getting their wedding photographs taken in front of the same picturesque facades. The photographers had to jostle for angles that didn't have some other bride in a rented wedding dress in the background. There was probably some kind of pecking order, but we couldn't figure it out.

All of the architectural details on the buildings were made of painted styrofoam, a technique all-too-visible when you got close to them.

As the sun set red behind the eternal Shanghai basin smog, the souvenir vendors and sausage grillers all packed up and disappeared and the everpresent street sweepers (people, not machines, because China must have Employment For All) removed all presence of humanity.

Not that there was ever any in that place to begin with.
posted by Enkidude at 7:16 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Two random associations with the Potemkin village photos:

- it was cool to see the Swedish tracks for testing urban vehicles, because that's something I learned about quite recently when visiting Kiruna, in the very northernmost part of Sweden. Lots of big car companies send their vehicles there for testing in the extreme cold, and it's apparently common to see cars driving around with a kind of dazzle camouflage applied to them, so no one can see the features of the new models.

- there's an excellent German crime novel, Feuer im Aquarium by Ralph Gerstenberg (sadly untranslated into English), in which a large chunk of the plot happens in a fake Middle-Eastern village in Bavaria, where American soldiers are rehearsing for the Iraq War. The viewpoint character is a German man who has taken a job playing a villager. The over-the-top secrecy, pretend-but-real violence and sense of disjointedness from reality really served the plot of the novel well.
posted by daisyk at 9:11 AM on March 22


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