The Potemkin Village by Gregor Sailer
Excerpt from The Potemkin Village, published by Kehrer Verlag
The concept of the “Potemkin Village” can be traced back to Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin, a Russian field marshal and favorite of Empress Catherine the Great. Anxious to spare her the grim face of the recently annexed Crimea when she toured it in 1787, he allegedly ordered to create entire “villages” consisting of nothing more than gaily painted façades to be erected all along her route. The curious architectural phenomena in the haunting images shown here, Gregor Sailer’s latest project after Closed Cities, are focused on political, military, and economic features: field exercise centers in the USA and Europe, the allure of European city replicas in China, and urban vehicle testing tracks in Sweden. Not surprisingly, the country of the term’s origin, Russia, still fakes whole streets in disguise when high-ranking political celebrities are visiting from abroad. Sailer’s images provide access to the world of fakes, copies, and artificial fronts. By exposing them to the eye of the beholder, he puts the value of these often absurd aberrations of today’s society to an acid test.