In 1999, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Oddy spent a month exploring some of the hundreds of ex-Soviet sanatoria that from Odessa down to Yalta in the Crimea line the Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Inside places such as the Magnolia Prophylactorium (previously the Buildings, Roads and Machinery Prophylactorium) or the Valery Chkalov Sanatorium (named after a Soviet aviator hero) he found himself face to face with the leftovers of a political system at once recognisable and yet totally alien. Hydrotherapy treatment corridors. Relaxation rooms. Armless statues of heroic peasant women. All perfectly normal in a state where collectivisation and surveillance must have seemed inescapable and where holidays took place beneath an undying communist sun.
If, in front of Oddy’s lens, these places, with their strange textures and unsettling symmetries reveal themselves as brazen ideological prisms, then they also act as reminders that, no matter where in the world we live, the built environment helps regulate and manufacture us, its inhabitants. And that never is this more true than when through inculcation or mere unconscious habit we are unable to notice that it is doing so.