Often unremarked or dismissed as state propaganda, Ukraine’s Soviet-era mosaics are also artworks in themselves that speak to a complex history.
For three years, photographer Yevgen Nikiforov traveled across Ukraine with an ambitious mission: document as many surviving Soviet-era mosaics as possible. These monumental panels have, for decades, adorned the interiors and exteriors of buildings in nearly every town and city, communicating Communist ideals in intricately fashioned scenes. And many remain embedded in the walls of apartment buildings, post offices, schools, and other structures, even though Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR nearly three decades ago.
The result of Nikiforov’s diligent search is Decommunized: Ukrainian Soviet Mosaics, the first comprehensive photographic study of Soviet monumental mosaics in Ukraine, including the territories of Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk (Nikiforov commissioned local photographers to photograph six mosaics in the latter two states). Published by DOM publishers in cooperation with OSNOVY Publishing, the book features about 200 photographs of mosaic panels, ensembles, and small architectural forms (like bus stops and border signs). They represent just a sample of the over 1000 mosaic pieces Nikiforov tracked down, across the 109 cities and villages he visited.