Rest Behind Curtain - PhMuseum

Rest Behind Curtain

Michal Solarski

2010 - Ongoing

'Rest Behind Curtain' is a project that has been created over a span of nearly a decade and it documents my journey to the most popular holiday resorts in Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union states.

In 2010 I started a project on Lake Balaton in Hungary. The Hungarian Lake Balaton is the largest in Central Europe. As Hungary is landlocked, the lake is often called the ‘Hungarian Sea’. From the 1960s onwards Balaton became a major destination for ordinary working Hungarians as well as for those from the eastern side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ who were rewarded for their work in building socialism with a permit to travel across the border. Working on this project triggered my interest in the subject of holidaying culture in the states of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Republics. In 2016 I collaborated with a few international photographers to create a body of work documenting life of still functioning soviet sanatoriums in the states of former Soviet Union. These old days spas designed for treatments and rehabilitation are still sprinkled across the post-Soviet space in varying states of decay. Their construction began in 1920’s and continued right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union. These magnificent spas were built for the workers who could rest and re-energize there on a pseudo-futuristic health regimen in preparation for the working year ahead. The question of leisure was one that preoccupied Soviet thinkers. Free time and work were not separate but connected and regular sanatorium stays for workers were seen as a way of increasing productivity. Soviet workers were sent to sanatoriums once a year so that they could return refreshed and ready for work. Workers in the toughest industries, such as mining, were prioritised over others. Stays at sanatoriums were overseen by medical crew and even sunbathing was monitored by health professionals. Today, long time after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there are many of these amazing buildings still functioning. I continued my work on the subject of holiday making in the region ever since and in upcoming months I will be traveling to some other destinations to finish the project.

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  • Two Kyrgyz women getting a sterilisation lamp treatment at Aurora Sanatorium in Kyrgyzstan. This procedure is being used for treating bronchitis and tuberculosis.

  • Zlata, Ukrainian girl in a dress created for a beauty contest. Odessa, Ukraine.

  • Over 90 year old patient prepares to lie down after a session in the steam room. The steam used contains healing radioactive radon. Khoja Obi Garm sanatorium, Tajikistan.

  • Plastic flamingos on the Primorskoye Beach in Odessa, Ukraine.

  • Women gazing at the sea. Mishor, Crimea, Ukraine.

  • Boton and Dolly on the stage of run down open-air theatre in Club Aliga. Club Aliga used to be a summer resort center, exclusive only to high-ranked Hungarian communistic party members as well as Castro, Honecker and Brezhniev among others. Now the center is open to the public. Lake Balaton, Hungary.

  • Masha the cleaner at Mishor Sanatorium. Crimea, Ukraine.

  • Dima, a doctor waiting for the patient. Every stay at the sanatorium starts with doctors examination to determine what treatment is needed. Foros, Ukraine.

  • The lounge of Foros Sanatorium in Crimea. Crimea is a home to the most splendid sanatoriums in the former Soviet Union.

  • Aurora Sanatorium. A Kyrgyz wrestler about to take a swim in the pool before visiting the on-site gym for a work-out. The ship-shaped, brutalist Aurora was in the past exclusively open for the communist party elite. It is located at the shore of lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan - second biggest alpine lake in the world.

  • Tunda, a hungarian tourist, sunbathing on the waterfront in Siofok. Siofok is a most popular summer destination, famous for its beaches and nightlife. Hungarians often call it ‘the capitol of Balaton', as it is the largest on its shore and acts as the commercial and tourism hub of the region.

  • Electrotherapy is used to treat sinusitis and other nasal inflammations. Mishor Sanatorium in Crimea, Ukraine.

  • The beach in front of Pobeda Health Resort in Evpatoria. Evpatoria is a major Black Sea resort town. Natural factors create excellent conditions for the treatment of osteoarticular tuberculosis and other children's diseases. Crimea, Ukraine.

  • A woman taking a mineral water bath, which is a staple at most sanatoriums. It is claimed to help a variety of conditions, including rheumatological and musculoskeletal diseases. Aurora sanatorium, Kyrgyzstan.

  • Monkey in the auditorium before circus troupe performance at Foros Sanatorium in Crimea. Many hotels and sanatoria would feature performance hall and auditorium so after a day spent on a beach or in a spa guests would get entertained. The auditoria would vary from glamorous concert halls to small, intimate outdoor theatres.

  • Tskaltubo in Georgia was one of the most desirable towns in so-called Russian Riviera. A subtropical landscape town on the eastern shore of Black Sea was home to over twenty magnificent sanatoria. In early nineties many thousands Georgians who escaped the war in nearby Abhazia had come here to make these buildings their homes. Today almost all the buildings are in the state of decay - some still occupied by refugees.

  • Austrian twin sisters. Austrians, Germans and tourists from Eastern European nations have been flooding hungarian summer resorts by the Lake Balaton for decades. Siofok, Hungary.

  • Man waiting for his meal on the hill overlooking a beautiful valley where Khoja Obi Garm Sanatorium is built - a hulking brutalist building nestled high in the Gissar mountain range. The mountain on which the sanatorium is built is called by the locals a Magic Mountain, where radon water flows from several underground sources. Tajikistan.

  • Women having a herbal tea after visit to the sauna. The steam used contains healing radioactive radon. Khoja Obi Garm sanatorium, Tajikistan.

  • Tskaltubo was one of the most desirable towns in so-called Russian Riviera. A subtropical landscape town on the eastern shore of Black Sea was home to over twenty magnificent sanatoria. In early nineties many thousands Georgians who escaped the war in nearby Abhazia had come here to make these buildings their homes. Today almost all the buildings are in the state of decay - some still occupied by refugees. Tskaltubo, Georgia.


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