Once, in the times of the Soviet Union, almost every town had a Lenin Street. Usually this name was bestowed on the historically most significant and geographically most central street of a town. This street would normally be home to the major municipal institutions, museums, theaters, glamorous shops and exclusive apartments. The most prominent national holidays and town festivities were likewise always celebrated on Lenin Street, thus contributing to the formation of an archetypically united place for the birth ritual of a Soviet person.
I have always been interested in uncovering the connection between visual identity, social constructions and collective myths. My intention was to explore the Lenin Street in Perm and the districts in its closest vicinity. The Lenin Street of Perm stretches for 3600 metres, and it has been given this name back on July 28, 1920, by a decree No 24, paragraph 3 of the plenum of district executive committee. I would like to note, however, that my study has no claim for a historically or socially accurate portrayal of Lenin Street, but rather is to be considered a psycho-geographical walking and photographing experience.
Nowadays, in many of the former Soviet towns there is still a street bearing the name of Lenin, though the surrounding environment and people have undergone tremendous changes. Geographically, economically and culturally Lenin Street is still the central and main thoroughfare in a town, yet in present days, being peppered with countless advertisements in different languages adorning the facades of private apartment blocks or office buildings, it bears testimony to the free market, capitalism and consumerism. Frequently, the pretty facades of dwelling houses or the walls speckled with surveillance cameras hide interiors and dumps that have remained unchanged since the century already gone by, and serve as a dubious and temporary shelter for the homeless who live by the courtyard garbage bins. In a peculiar way, Lenin Street has become a location that symbolises the Soviet person’s transformation and decline in an urban environment.