Hidden and unmarked: vivid photos from inside Russia’s former closed towns — The Calvert Journal
Hitchhiking across Russia, American documentary photographer Christine Armbruster recalls the times she’d camp beside rivers or sleep on the floors of friendly locals she’d met that morning. Except for one bed and breakfast near Lake Baikal, there were no hostels in the places she visited. In many cases, the towns themselves did not exist on a map. During the Soviet era, over 2,000 towns and cities were built. Armbruster visited and documented those cities that were closed or secret, which she found through dubious archive material online.
Probingly gentle, the photographs in Made of Steel depict homemade delicacies, national celebrations, and large swathes of industrial areas: scenes of everyday Russia that will be familiar to many but remain hidden to many tourists. We asked the photographer to recount her journey. Here, she tells The Calvert Journal about the communities she encountered who have been left to survive on their own.