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Photographer travels world snapping realistic fake cities

  • A photographer has taken pictures of a fake world, traveling to photograph cities and buildings that serve as illusions or as empty sets for army training
  • Gregory Sailer spent two years visiting seven countries including Germany, Russia, Sweden and the USA
  • Sailer got to visit one of 12 fake towns the U.S. army have built specifically to train troops
  • Other locations serve as destinations for tourists fascinated by the fakery of a different culture 

By Dailymail.com Reporter

Published: 23:33 EST, 14 November 2017 | Updated: 03:18 EST, 15 November 2017

While taking a break, this photographer also opts to take in a, well, fake - travelling the world to photograph cities and buildings that serve as illusions.

Gregor Sailer's unique series has taken him to the likes of Mosul recreations situated in the Mojave Desert, California; a New York-style town in Sweden, used to test cars; and a Dutch village in China, giving the locals or Chinese tourists a taste of Europe.

The photographer, who is based in Tyrol, Austria, came up with the idea for his project in 2015, having initially researched the likes of backdrops, illusions and artificially created urban constructions. 

Thamestown in China has built an entire town in the style of a British community, which even has mock-Tudor buildings (pictured) decorated with the classic beams which are typical of the period
Thamestown in China has built an entire town in the style of a British community, which even has mock-Tudor buildings (pictured) decorated with the classic beams which are typical of the period

Thamestown in China has built an entire town in the style of a British community, which even has mock-Tudor buildings (pictured) decorated with the classic beams which are typical of the period

The town even features a British-style church (pictured) where people can be wed in a classically British setting. The church is based on one in Clifton Village, Bristol 
The town even features a British-style church (pictured) where people can be wed in a classically British setting. The church is based on one in Clifton Village, Bristol 

The town even features a British-style church (pictured) where people can be wed in a classically British setting. The church is based on one in Clifton Village, Bristol 

Car manufacturers use this strip of land to test vehicle safety at Carson City in Sweden 
Car manufacturers use this strip of land to test vehicle safety at Carson City in Sweden 

Car manufacturers use this strip of land to test vehicle safety at Carson City in Sweden 

Fake buildings form a Middle Eastern town at Junction City, Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert 
Fake buildings form a Middle Eastern town at Junction City, Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert 

Fake buildings form a Middle Eastern town at Junction City, Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert 

In total, 37-year-old Gregor's intrigue took him to 25 locations across seven countries and three continents.

Gregor said: 'Generally, I am much more interested in taking pictures of architecture and to transport the content through architectural structures than taking pictures of human beings.

'Here I was looking for this kind of tightrope walk between illusion and reality.

'To construct illusions and break with them, to disillusion, to play with visual realities.

'The aim of the project is to enable access to the world of fakes, copies and backdrops. 

Officials in Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia masked forlorn-looking buildings by draping them with 'attractive scenery' for a BRICS summit in 2015 when high-level diplomats and officials were visiting the area 
Officials in Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia masked forlorn-looking buildings by draping them with 'attractive scenery' for a BRICS summit in 2015 when high-level diplomats and officials were visiting the area 

Officials in Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia masked forlorn-looking buildings by draping them with 'attractive scenery' for a BRICS summit in 2015 when high-level diplomats and officials were visiting the area 

Tiefort City is a fake town at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert
Tiefort City is a fake town at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert

Tiefort City is a fake town at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert

The French Army conducts urban warfare training at the at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrbaineCamp de Sissonne in France
The French Army conducts urban warfare training at the at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrbaineCamp de Sissonne in France

The French Army conducts urban warfare training at the at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrbaineCamp de Sissonne in France

Germany, Schnggersburg - train tracks appear to go on for miles in this underground network of tunnels
Germany, Schnggersburg - train tracks appear to go on for miles in this underground network of tunnels

Germany, Schnggersburg - train tracks appear to go on for miles in this underground network of tunnels

Gregory Sailoer spent two years traveling through seven countries to photograph these strange, surreal places
Gregory Sailoer spent two years traveling through seven countries to photograph these strange, surreal places

Gregory Sailoer spent two years traveling through seven countries to photograph these strange, surreal places

'The visitor gets the possibility to follow and question these sometimes absurd developments of today's society.'

Some of the most interesting and exhilarating locations to visit, Gregor said, were the urban warfare training environments.

The series, photographed between 2015 and 2017 and entitled 'The Potemkin Village', resulted in a recently-released book by the same name.

The term Potemkin Village stems from a legend about Russian Girgori Potemkin, who, according to reports, built impressive yet fake villages along a route Catherine the Great was once due to travel.

Today, the term is used to describe a facade that is aimed to hide something undesirable beneath.

Understanding this history, Gregor said, is important in realizing the meaning behind his naming choice.

Shows of the images are planned for Gregor's native Austria, as well as the likes of France, Germany and Russia.

Gregor said: 'I am absolutely happy about the great, positive feedback.

'It couldn't be better and that is kind of a motor which motivates me to continue my work in general.

'This certain project is finished for now. But who knows what happens in the future?'

Jeoffrecourt is an urban combat training site at Camp de Sissonne
Jeoffrecourt is an urban combat training site at Camp de Sissonne

Jeoffrecourt is an urban combat training site at Camp de Sissonne

Sailer photographed artificial cities created for military training, encountering Afghanstyle villages in California’s Mojave desert and Cold War relics in Europe such as this particular set in Germany
Sailer photographed artificial cities created for military training, encountering Afghanstyle villages in California’s Mojave desert and Cold War relics in Europe such as this particular set in Germany

Sailer photographed artificial cities created for military training, encountering Afghanstyle villages in California's Mojave desert and Cold War relics in Europe such as this particular set in Germany

Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script. It's a stage set at Fort Irwin in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents
Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script. It's a stage set at Fort Irwin in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents

Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script. It's a stage set at Fort Irwin in the middle of California's Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents

The French Army trains its military for urban warfare at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrBaine
The French Army trains its military for urban warfare at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrBaine

The French Army trains its military for urban warfare at the Complexe de Tir en Zone UrBaine

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