40-year old Russian sea pilot Sergey Larenkov has a hobby. When he’s not busy with his full time job, which is guiding ships in the Finnish Gulf, he’s using archived photographs and creating poignant, heart-stirring art with everyday photographs and postcards. He has done stunning work with photographs of St. Petersburg, and he’s done an amazing World War II series that is truly haunting and beautiful. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
While we’d love to pick Larenkov’s brain about the inner workings of each photograph, all we know is that he tries to match new photos and old with the same position. Meaning, he takes an old photograph and tries to match the position with a new photograph that he takes. This photograph, transposing Hitler in front of a view of the Eiffel Tower, which brings to mind a tidbit left over from history class. During the German occupation of Paris, the French citizens cut the cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Germans would have to walk to the top to hoist the swastika. The large flag symbolizing the Nazi regime was large, and flew off the tower within hours. The Germans had to make the climb back up, and replaced the larger flag with a smaller one.
As the Allied troops made their way into Paris, Hitler ordered his military governor of Paris to destroy Paris, and specifically the Eiffel tower. The governor, a General named Dietrich von Choltitz, disobeyed and Paris was left largely intact, if you don’t count all that bombing that went on prior to the liberation of Paris. Within hours of the liberation, the lifts on the Eiffel tower were working just fine.
This image is particularly evocative. You have a representation of decadence in the modern section of the photograph with the Swarovski watch. Then, in the “ghostly” part of the photograph, you have the triumphant march of German soldiers after the Fall of France in 1940.
A shot of Omaha Beach today, displaying Anilore Banon’s “Les Braves” statue, a monument to D-Day, the source of the older photo. Personally, this is my favorite of all of Larenkov’s photographs.
And this one – a different vantage point – looking down at the beach from a hill. Many lives were lost in the hills beyond the beach, and the fighting, for many soldiers, started that day.
There are many more stunning works by Larenkov, which can be seen on his website. I chose to end on this one, a view of Tiergarten and the Victory Column today, transposed with celebrating victors in the liberation of Berlin, 1945.