KALININGRAD: MOSKVA – BERLIN
In 2015, the travelling photographer Algirdas Bakas visited the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation, which is a mere 24 kilometers away from his hometown of Jurbarkas. This territory, stretching between Lithuania and Poland, turned from Königsberg, the spearhead of Prussian German grandeur, into the most militarized part of the Soviet Union – Kaliningrad.
In Kaliningrad, the amalgam of East and West is obvious not only in the public space but also in the portraits of the people the photographer met during his journey. Ironically, the locals value anything vaguely Western, even if it is just inauthentic “Euro renovation”, low-quality garments, selfies and so on. On the other hand, Soviet legacy, especially that which is of interest to Westerners, is admired just as fervently as the “novelties” brought by Western culture. Thus, in Kaliningrad nostalgia for the West is mixed with ostalgia for the East. One could say the city is a station between Moscow and Berlin (coincidentally, the name of a local night bar favored by youths is Moskva–Berlin).
Bakas’ Kaliningrad series acts as an anthropological and social research into Soviet legacy, which reveals both the facade and the peripheral faces of Kaliningrad. Bakas Graduated The School of Photography in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2004 and started working as a news photographer in Lithuanian daily news paper Lietuvos Rytas. Later worked as a freelance photographer in London and a major Lithuanian visual production house Ciklopas. Since 2011 is based in Shanghai, China, his quiet, anthropological visual approach analyses different cultures and urban lifestyles.