The Direction–Space! series serves to commemorate the 50th anniversary of man’s first flight into space. Fifty years ago, on April 12th 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. His orbit of the Earth made him a celebrity worldwide. His name is still synonymous with the Space Race and with Russian space exploration. Half a century after the legendary flight, Direction–Space! looks at two of the sites that were key to the Soviet Space programme: Star City, built in the 1960s and still operating, and Baikonur, the world’s first and largest space launch facility.
Generations of cosmonauts have trained in these surroundings and because of the insularity of this world the physical space and its spirit have been preserved. As if trapped in a Soviet-era time warp, slightly shabby buildings with their simple furnishings give a sense of conviction that space travel is not only possible but normal. The iconography of the Soviet space programme speaks of serving humanity and a belief in a peaceful future. This work reveals these traces of history, power and a ghost-like presence left behind. It is this space that holds the weight of the past and shapes the reality of people who live and work there currently.
Half a century after the legendary flight accomplished by Gagarin in 1961, it is a good time to look back into history and evaluate the experience the whole world has gone through during the Arms Race and the Cold War. Decisions and events that took place decades ago are still influencing the contemporary world and the world our children will discover tomorrow.