From a distance, it’s not immediately obvious what the original function of the building was until you spot the familiar shape of the shopping trollies sitting outside. Peering through the windows, the metal frames long since removed, there are further trolleys and beyond, as my eyes adjust to the darkness, rows of freezer cabinets emerge from the gloom flanking the aisles where shoppers haven’t walked for decades.
Signs still proudly hang from the ceiling proclaiming the food types once located below. Light fittings, plaster and furniture lay scattered across the floor.
Upstairs, where once the inhabitants of Pripyat would have shopped for furniture to furnish their new flat, the sodden remains of the ceiling covers the floor. Strip lights rust in lines where they’ve fallen. Without the floor length windows of the ground floor, it is a dark, damp and particularly unpleasant.
I have read that this was one of the few places in the Soviet Union that sold Chanel Nº 5. Whether this is fact or fiction Pripyat was a privileged city, a model city for the modern Soviet Union with a high standard of living and a promising future. Standing outside, looking across Lenin Square to the Place of Culture and Polissia Hotel, it was clear the supermarket was a prominent feature.
The graffiti is by Kim Köster, Radiating Places (2005), a model city for the modern Soviet Union.
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