Artist Anton Ginzburg Looks for 'Hyperborea' in Woods and Gulags

In the past few years, sensationalist Russian news stories have claimed the discovery of Hyperborea — a land rooted in Greek myth, “a place of pure bliss, perpetual sunlight and eternal springtime,” supposedly located somewhere on the White Sea… right next to the snow-beaten, eerie sites of Soviet Gulag prison camps. Artist Anton Ginzburg has responded to this astonishing fantasy with project At the Back of the North Wind. These photographs document his journey “beyond the Boreas” (the North Wind) to the “primordial, virgin forest” of Portland, Oregon, to the dilapidated palaces and haunted natural history museums of St. Petersburg, Russia and finally, to the stark ruins of the Gulags themselves. Creating a dreamscape on the geographical and metaphorical sites of Hyperborea, the artist released giant clouds of red smoke to represent the collective unconscious.

Exploring “the tension between the actual and the potential,” Anton Ginzburg’s photographs, video installations, and site-specific works will be exhibited as part of the 54th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Bollani through November 27, 2011. Click through for a preview.

Anton Ginzburg, from the series At the Back of the North Wind. Courtesy Palazzo Bollani, Venice Biennale