Welcome to my web The Infinite Beauty Of Decay.
Empty places have fascinated me throughout my life. I remember when my father took me to abandoned areas and it seems I was infected by Urban Exploration virus. I also remember, following the departure of the Soviet forces in 1969 – some troups stayed for another twenty years – how I and my father visited some of their deserted forest camps. I was five years old and asked questions, sometimes quite vehemently. My father explained the whole situation, knowing quite well that children reveal a lot in public. Having personal opinions or opinions about the truth was then heavily punished. Sometimes I think it is so still today.
I began taking photographs at age fifteen of abandoned and overgrown cemeteries, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, military bases, monasteries, churches, amusement parks, and upon seeing Andrei Tarkowski´s movie Stalker, this passion merely grew.
I have been working on this series of photographs since 2000. All these forgotten places have a very mystical atmosphere, be it Soviet army towns near Berlin, overgrown with vegetation, tanks in northern Ethiopia, the Tchernobyl zone, an old car cemetery in western Sweden or desolate rocket bases in Estonia. The wind is howling in the corridors, windows and doors are slamming in the draught, the echoing of broken glass under my feet... Sometimes, I have a feeling that silence underlines the particular atmosphere of these locations. They are often linked to a certain destiny - Nazism, Communism – and it forces me to constantly question an era that I personally did not experience, a time that I know only from stories told and that will never return. Although these places sometimes seem fearful, I cannot but want to return over and over again.
These godforsaken places are full of animals that have no enemies and the vegetation grows wild. Even I feel more free here than anywhere else.
I wish you pleasant moments watching my photographs. Welcome to the world of The Infinite Beauty Of Decay!
Tomas Svoboda, photographer