Hidden away in the thick Russian forest, surrounded by barbed wire, and until very recently completely un-findable on Google Maps, Star City sounds like the mystical final destination of a science fiction epic, or like the sister city of Oz. In reality the closed off and highly secretive community is home to the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Centre, the training centre for all Soviet and post-Soviet Cosmonauts since the late 1950’s. Yuri Gagarin lived and trained there, and his wife and children still reside in the historical and strangely ghostly city.
Mitch Karunaratne’s photographs of the training centre hauntingly resurrect dreams of outer space exploration that have been a constant in Soviet society since the 1920s. Star City is still a symbol of soviet scientific technical progress, and Mitch’s photographs of the inner sanctum capture a sense of hope and prestige, but also of archaic mystery and dusty dreams from the past.