A photographer passionate about abandoned places, Jonk traveled all over Eastern Europe part of the former Soviet Union to immortalize the traces of another time.
From East Germany to Ukraine, via Hungary and Bulgaria, he surveyed these neglected areas and crossed many “time capsules”.
Mines, military bases, theaters, schools, and even hospitals are all places in which Soviet communism was embodied. So many places bearing strong symbols, working currency, political figures. Bunkers of another age, the Tchernobyl exclusion zone, military schools, tell us, in their own way, of the 20th century.
“I travel the world in search of abandoned places.
Today, I have visited more than one thousand five hundred in fifty countries on four continents.
To be touched by a place, I need to see that only the past has had an impact on it, without human intervention: cracked walls, chipped paint, rusty iron, nature that takes over.
The ideal is even to feel in what I call a time capsule, to have the impression that time has been frozen for years, decades. Over time, my interest has focused on those places where time has had an impact.
Among them is what seems to me the strongest in this area of abandonment: if it is certainly a question of the return of nature from a philosophical point of view, it is surely the Soviet vestiges on the pictorial level.
What could be stronger than a decrepit theater with a banner which reads “Art belongs to the people! In Cyrillic above the stage and “V.I. Lenin” in signature of the quote?
What could be stronger than being in the headquarters of the Soviet forces in East Germany and falling on the map of Berlin’s strategic plan of attack in 1945?
What is stronger than being on the roof of a 16-storey building in Pripyat in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and standing in front of a metal structure several meters high representing a hammer and a sickle?
These are just three examples out of thousands that I have had the chance to photograph.
Goodbye Lenin is my fifth book and I present a selection of the photographs taken during 16 trips between 2015 and 2019.
I have thus visited all the former Soviet Socialist Republics in Eastern Europe and today independent countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, but also so-called “satellite” countries: Germany of the ‘East, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
One chapter per country presents legendary Soviet remains, introduced by the country’s Soviet history.” – Jonk
Jonk : Goodbye Lenin