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Comrade Kyiv


Abandoned Kyrgyzstan: Aalam-Ordo, the Centre of the Universe


Along the southern border of Issyk-Kul lake, Kyrgyzstan, two shining golden gates and 1,500 metre long wall shield a giant hundred hectare complex. I scaled the wall and on the other side, I discovered hundreds of abandoned yurts, an outdoor theatre and a handful of colourful peeling murals. ‘Aalam-Ordo’, which translates as ‘the centre of the universe’, now sits abandoned. 

At the order of Kyrgyzstan's then President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a centre for culture science and spirituality was constructed in 2009. It was a bold vision. Young and old would live together in 365 yurts, exchanging ideas and learning from each other. These ideas would be accessible by all online. The hope was that these ideas would spread far and wide, and potentially even bring a Nobel Prize to Kyrgyzstan. 

Massive murals with traditional Kyrgyz motifs like eagles and horses feature prominently on the sides of walls and buildings. Others have a more symbolic meaning. One mural depicts a dragon stealing Kyrgyzstan's wealth as villagers desperately fight back. The villagers who fight back become ensnared in the dragon, and eventually become it, a visual metaphor for the vicious cycle of corruption. Ironically, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who commissioned the centre was removed from power in 2010, after corruption led to widespread protests which sparked the second Kyrgyz revolution. Today, the centre stands forgotten on the shores of Issyk-Kul, while corruption continues to ravage Kyrgyzstan.  

Further Reading


Soviet Intourist Travel Posters - How the USSR Used Art & Propaganda to Drive Tourism

Intourist held a monopoly on tourism in the USSR. As the only tourism agency in the Soviet Union, Intourist was responsible for attracting and accommodating all tourists. Like every other industry or ideal in the USSR, Intourist used propaganda to advance its agenda. Posters targeted western audiences. They portrayed the Soviet Union as a glamorous and exotic land rather than a country of labourers and peasants.


The Definitive History of the Soviet Propaganda Poster

The Soviet Union used propaganda as a vehicle to disseminate communist ideology, promote the goals of the Communist Party and their own world view. After the Russian Revolution in 1918, the transformation of the Russian Empire into a socialist utopia required the retelling of history, the present and the future. Soviet propaganda posters have always kept pace with the times, and their legacy is intertwined with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.


Art Factory: The Rise of Soviet Safety Posters in the Workplace

The industrialisation of the Soviet economy was Stalin’s top priority. By his own admittance, the Soviet Union is “fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or we shall be crushed.” A modern, industrial USSR would have economic independence from capitalist countries. Industrialisation meant the fundamental transformation of the Soviet Union from a predominantly agricultural economy into a leading industrial one.


The OG of Photoshop: The Fabrication of Photographs in Stalin’s Soviet Surveillance State

It’s 1922, and a photograph of Stalin and Lenin sitting side-by-side appears in every newspaper across the Soviet Union. But everything wasn’t as it seemed. The photograph was a fake. It’s thought this photograph was the first time that Stalin used photo technicians to create a new reality, his version of reality.
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