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  • Artek

    Situated on the Black Sea in the Ukraine, the Artek International Children’s Camp was established in 1925 by the soviet government under Lenin. The camp hosted The Young Pioneers, which was a communist party youth group similar to Boy Scouts. However, not only did the Young Pioneers learn pioneering and camping skills, but they were also taught how to be ‘good’ communist citizens. Catering to the children of the communist party elite as well as those who excelled at school, it was considered an honor to be selected to attend Artek. Artek functions year round, and at the height of its operation, 27,000 children would stay at the camp each year. By 1969, Artek had over 150 buildings on a 3.2 square kilometer patch of land. These buildings included medical buildings, schools, a film studio, three swimming pools, a stadium that can seat 7000 people, and playgrounds for various activities. Well over 1 million children have attended Artek.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   At one time, the Artek International Young Pioneers’ Camp was synonymous with the Soviet effort to create a new society, and is now one of the few remaining institutions from that era. I am interested in the historical significance, as well as the contradictions that are imbedded in this site. With unkempt statues of Lenin, and 1960s Soviet architecture, Artek still has children playing against the picturesque backdrop of the Crimean peninsula. Ultimately, Artek may be the closest the Soviet Union was able to come to Marx’s utopian vision.