A Conversation with Photographer REBECCA LITCHFIELD

By Francesca Rimi

Spring 2015

Photographer Rebecca Litchfield”s series Soviet Ghosts creates a portal to another world: the abandoned and decaying spaces of the Soviet Union and its various satellite states. From dilapidated buildings to vast empty areas, she brings us on a journey to places that have long retired from interacting with people on a daily basis. After bringing us into this demolished realm, we couldn”t help but ask Litchfield some questions about her gorgeous photographs and the adventures she went on to create them.

Francesca Rimi: Since your photographs show very dilapidated spaces, did any of the locations pose dangerous situations? 

Rebecca Litchfield: Decaying buildings are dangerous place to be and I’ll never go to them on my own, not only is getting into them difficult, due to never breaking and entering and often having to climb huge walls and fences, but also through broken windows. There is often glass and decaying floorboards, you need to have your wits about you the whole time to keep safe. There is also risk from asbestos, pigeon poo, dust and people that may be in the building that could cause a threat.

FR: In the series you are perhaps best known for, Soviet Ghosts, how did you decide upon Soviet Union buildings as a motif? What were you expecting to see when you went there?

RL: There are a lot of photographers taking photos of abandoned buildings and I wanted to do something that everyone else wasn’t doing. I thought about events that could lead to an increased amount of dereliction and then it came to me that the collapse of the Soviet Union most certainly would have a lot of abandoned buildings. It was a trip to Chernobyl in 2012 that sparked my interest in this period of history and soon I was researching the former Soviet Union, its satellite states and place that were once over run by communism and searching out traces that had been left behind due to its breakdown.

My expectations were to find a lot of decaying remnants of this past and I find many interesting artifacts and interesting architecture along the way, it was quite some journey with many exciting finds along the way. Some of my favorites was a steam locomotive with a communist start on the front found in the previously occupied Hungary. Also a Soviet submarine

FR: What did you bring with you on your travels? Was there anything you wish you had brought that you didn”t? 

RL: I took my camera, torch, lenses, my passport and clothes; I try to travel as light as possible, its hard to get into these spaces so I try to travel light. It would have been cool to have a go pro to record the journey, maybe one day I will finally get hold of one as I’d love to capture behind the scenes videos of my travels.

FR: Throughout the pieces there lives this contrast of bold reds and blues against industrial tones. Did you seek out these moments or did they appear once you started going through your images?  

RL: I think I am naturally drawn to red, black, and blue. Perhaps when I witness a scene, I may be drawn into it to take a photo, particularly if it contains these colors schemes. Of course, red is a very Soviet color, so a lot of the murals, artworks, and propaganda have this color.

Rebecca Litchfield is a photographer, best known for her series Soviet Ghosts.


Rebecca Litchfield”s Official Site

Written by Francesca Rimi

Photography by & Courtesy of Rebecca Litchfield 

Design by Francesca Rimi


Photography by & Courtesy of Rebecca Litchfield 

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