Edifice is a visual journey back to a time that most people would like to forget. I document buildings that have survived the Communist regime which, years ago, rolled over Central and Eastern Europe.

During the Cold War, a series of Central and Eastern European countries aligned with the USSR made up the Eastern Bloc. These socialist states (the countries of the Warsaw Pact) included Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. This photo series documents the remnants of these socialist states in the present day.

The photographs show the interiors of the Polana Hotel, a closed holiday facility once owned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and the now disused office building for the management of the Nowa Huta Steelworks, a fine example of Socialist Realism that was once visited by Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro.

Red salon in which Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar signed the division of Czechoslovakia. © Karol Palka, Winner, LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2017

I build the “Edifice” alluded to in the title in order to tell a story about power and its impermanence. The edifice provides shelter, security, and peace while at the same time offering a sense of strength.

However, this feeling is just an illusion, and the power—contrary to what those who wield it think—is not given over competely, but only for a moment. The specter of demise is near, lurking just around the corner, just behind the cold and thick walls of grandiose ideas.

—Karol Palka

Palka’s series was singled out in our Emerging Talent Awards 2017. Discover all the other inspiring projects from this year’s 50 talents!