For the ideological champions of utopian society, architecture is a clear and potent manifestation of a society’s power, influence and status. From the gothic might of Stalin’s seven Vysotki to Astana’s gleaming Bayterek Tower, giant structures loom over the citizens of the former Soviet Union, signifying the grand ambitions of their rulers, past and present. “Power and Architecture: on utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world” is a season that will explore the design of the built environment and its use as a device of influence, both physically characterising the skyline, and psychologically in relation to the people who live in its shadow.
“Power and Architecture”
10 June – 9 October 2016
Calvert 22 Foundation
22 Calvert Avenue
Across the post-Soviet world, there is a common thread running through architectural styles. From grand monuments and high-rise cathedrals of geometric correctness to homogenised concrete blocks, repetitious and standardised landmarks to public art, we see the echoes of space designed with the futuristic ideologies of socialism, transitioned into the globalised hegemony of capitalism.
What effect do these architectural structures, designed by one regime and inherited by another, have on the people who live with their legacy? How is public space redefined through external forces such as privatisation and capitalism, or re-used through independent culture and recreation? Power and Architecture will seek to answer these questions, looking at the evolution of the relationship between cities, public space and their citizens throughout contrasting eras.
CONFERENCE: THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD?
10 — 11 June 2016
Led by Michał Murawski and Jonathan Bach from UCL’s FRINGE research centre, the two-day conference will look at the aesthetics, politics, economics and effects of centrality and monumentality in 20th century cities. The line-up includes contributions from prominent researchers, architects and artists such as Vladimir Papeny, Vyjayanthi Rao, Owen Hatherley, Clementine Cecil, Hilary Wainwright, Łukasz Stanek and Wendy Pullan, among many others. The conference will officially launch the 12 week season of events exploring the debates and questions raised by Power and Architecture.
THE 4 PART EXHIBITION
Work by artists from across the New East region will be exhibited over four interconnected installments. Multiple facets of architecture’s relationship to power will be present, from artistic reflections on the modernist vision of the socialist city to the individual’s participation in the activation of public space and the afterlife of cities build for a utopia that was never realised.
Part 1: Utopia and Modernity
12 June — 3 July 2016
Four artists will reflect on the modernist vision of the socialist city and consider the real and imagined futures of utopia. Przemek Pyszczek’s series Façade captures the bright, block-colour decorative Soviet- era design of external walls and windows grates. Dmitry Lookianov’s Instant Tomorrow series provides a vision of the near future through the setting of Muscovite apartment life. In his films Hyperborea and Walking the Sea, Anton Ginzburg explores the quest for a perfect, utopian life and its potentially devasta ting impact. Kuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera’s Architecture of the VII Day catalogue draws upon 3,597 churches built by hand in Poland against the will of the state in the second half of the 20th Century.
Part 2: Dead space and ruins
7 July – 7 August 2016
Three photographers present the decaying architectural reminiscence of the Soviet vision. With work taking inspiration from across the vast landscape of the former Soviet Union, these artists will explore the “dead space” left in the wake of the quest for progress. Participating artists: Vahram Aghasyan, Anton Ginzburg, Eric Lusito and Danila Tkachenko.
Part 3: Citizen activated space – Museum of Skateboarding
11 August – 11 September 2016
Part three explores the individual’s participation in the activation of public space with Russian artist Kirill Savchenkov’s installation. Museum of Skateboarding is a mixed media installation that considers skateboarding not just as a form of exercise, but also as a visceral way to explore and reflect on the post-Soviet residential suburbs of Moscow. The project studies the secret language of the sport, illustrating how certain architectural interventions or objects can be understood through skateboarding.
Part 4: The afterlives of Modernity — shared values and routines
15 September – 9 October 2016
The season culminates with four artists considering the afterlives of utopian endeavour and the quest for new national identities. Across the former Soviet Union there are a series of architectural and physical nostalgias connecting citizens who share the same socialist history – part four of the programme reflects on these shared values and routines for citizens today. Participating artists: Aikaterini Gegisian, Donald Weber, Dmytrij Wulffius, Ogino Knauss.
The Power and Architecture season reaches its conclusion as the Calvert 22 Foundation partners with Assemble (UK), Museum of Architecture (UK) and reSITE (CZ) for a series of workshops that will offer fresh perspectives and solutions that will improve the urban experience and highlight civic issues affecting mobility health and wellbeing. Also, as part of the season, The Calvert Journal will present a curated online series of reports, essays and photo stories which will further explore the relationship between architecture and power, expanding on a number of the themes and artistic projects included in the seasonal programme .