Running time: 12mins

In June 1993 Irish artist Sean Taylor visited the abandoned former Soviet Army base of Borneo Sulinowo, situated on the southern shore of Pile Lake in the region of Pomerania, Poland. This video artwork, shot on location, is a record of creative interventions undertaken by the artist, using photographic images and cinematic stock material found in the abandoned town.

The town of Borne Sulinowo “miraculously” appeared on the map of Poland in 1992. Up to this date the town officially did not exist; it was not marked on any maps and roads led only to the lake or ended unexpectedly in the forest. During the time of the Cold War the town was excluded from Polish jurisdiction and erased from all maps, and the history of the site was carefully guarded.

In 1938 the town functioned as a large military garrison (Gross-Born) and training grounds for the Wehrmacht. The facilities were officially opened by Adolf Hitler in person. In September 1939 a German POW camp was established close by. More than 30,000 Polish soldiers, as well as Russian, French and Yugoslavian POWs were murdered there. The area became part of the Pomeranian Rampart – a fortification line of over 900 concrete bunkers guarding the pre-war Polish-German border.

The town was then taken over by the Red Army in February 1945. Borne Sulinowo became the largest covert and perfectly guarded military base of the Soviet Union’s Northern Group of Forces. In official documents of the surrounding communes, the area of former Gross-Born and the surrounding 180 km² were labelled forest areas and remained a secret for almost 50 years.

After the collapse of the Iron Curtin in 1989, the Soviet Army withdrew its forces from former Soviet bloc counties including Poland. The last of the Soviet units was withdrawn from Burneo- Sulinowo in 1992, and the town officially became part of Poland again.

On September 15th June of the same year the Council of Ministers granted the town a city charter and a process of reclamation and re-settlement began. Among the first inhabitants of the town were Polish repatriates from Russian Siberia and Kazakhstan, who were finally allowed to return to Poland after more than 50 years of forcible resettlement in Soviet Union.

Nowadays, Borne Sulinowo is a prosperous town attracting tourists.

Project slideshow

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