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Photo Essay: Inside Tashkent's Space-aged Subway Station

Public transit for the masses was one of the cornerstones of Communist ideology. In the 1930s, automobile production was limited in favour of building new metro systems. The best artists and sculptors were employed to decorate the stations with patterned ceilings, soaring arches and dazzling chandeliers. Many of the stations boasted elaborate mosaics of the Soviet space program or heroes of industry. 

After the ban on photographing the Tashkent metro in Uzbekistan was lifted in 2018, Amos Chapple went to Uzbekistan to photograph the stations on the Tashkent subway. Here are a few of his photos…


Photography inside the heavily policed metro was forbidden until June 2018 because of the military sensitivity of its second role as a nuclear bomb shelter


Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Tashkent’s Cosmonauts Station honors the enduring icons of the space race with its Milky Way glass star ceiling and atmospheric azure walls.


A cashier at an entrance to the metro. A trip costs 1,200 Uzbek soms (12p), making it the cheapest subway ride in the former USSR


A shimmering corridor linking two stations. After an earthquake devastated Tashkent in 1966, cautious planners reportedly reduced the depth and increased the strength of the metro, tunnelling within a few metres of the streets above.

A mural celebrating 2,200 years since the founding of Tashkent, inside Tashkent station


 

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Create, Invent, Try! | Russia | 1982£200.00
"We've Inspected the Sky Inside & Outside. No Gods or Angels Were Found" | Russia | 1964£1,500.00
12th April Cosmonauts Day | Russia | 1985£400.00
List of all posters

Further Reading

architecture

A Top 10 Guide to Armenia’s Best Brutalist & Modernist Buildings

With its concrete clover windows and ornately carved scenes in red stone, the National University of Architecture and Construction is one of the most striking examples of Brutalist architecture in Yerevan. The inside is just as beautiful, although if you wander aimlessly through the halls taking photos, the security guards will come and politely escort you off the premises.

architecture

Knocking on Heaven's Door: Armenia's Abandoned Orgov Telescope

Two hours by car from Yerevan, nestled amongst grazing cattle and the farmers who tend to them, is the abandoned remains of a telescope which once searched for signs of life beyond our world. Space exploration was initially a practical concern: rocket technology solved the problem of sending huge nuclear payloads over long distances. But the Space Race soon evolved into something of much greater symbolic significance.

architecture

Armenia’s Modernist Masterpiece: Lake Sevan Writers Retreat

In the 1930s, the Writers’ Union of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic commissioned a writer's retreat to be built on Sevan Island. Around the time that the retreat first opened to writers, Sevan Island was in the middle of a dramatic transformation. The Soviet state was diverting water from Lake Sevan to irrigate the Ararat plain and generate hydroelectric power. Over the next two decades, the lake’s water level fell by around 20 metres, and Sevan Island became a peninsula.

art

Bulldozer Exhibition: The Degenerate Art of the USSR

On September 15, 1974, a group of twenty Soviet nonconformist artists gathered in a vacant lot in an urban forest on the outskirts of Moscow. But the authorities were ready. Almost immediately, more than 100 policemen armed with batons, three bulldozers, and a truck with a water cannon began to break up the exhibition. It was mayhem. Artists desperately tried to save their artworks as they were chased by authorities.

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