In New Literary Observer, Mikhail Ilchenko revisits the well-known story of the rise and fall of the Soviet avantgarde, however from an uncommon perspective: architectural debates. He highlights how the online of phrases that developed across the architectural avant-garde was incessantly unrelated to any precise constructing. Within the Twenties, there was a lot speak about ‘new Soviet structure’, each overseas and throughout the Soviet Union. However ‘in truth, no one had seen it’. In actuality, lots of the deliberate constructions would by no means see the sunshine of day.
What Ilchenko calls the ‘structure of the phrase’ referred to not a tangible, materials product however to a profoundly utopian undertaking for buildings and cities of the longer term. He argues that ‘the structure of the avant-garde and the phrase (slovo) are inseparable from one another, whereas the best way of speaking in regards to the avant-garde is as vital as precise architectural tasks themselves’.
Urbanization versus de-urbanization
The utopian theme is taken up by Mikhail Timofeev in his article on representations of town of the longer term in two brief tales from the Twenties – Alexei Chayanov’s The Journey of My Brother Alexei to the Land of Peasant Utopia (1920) and Vladimir Fedorov’s The Miracle of the Sinful Pitirim (1925). These two fictional accounts are in comparison with illustrate debates between urbanists and proponents of de-urbanization within the early Soviet interval.
Once more, the very public discussions of the cities of the longer term passed off in stark distinction to ‘the unchanging materials surroundings’. Chayanov’s story describes the bucolic idyll of a de-urbanized Moscow in 1984. This picture would show not solely unrealistic, however in opposition to the Celebration line formulated within the Nineteen Thirties (Chayanov was arrested in 1930). On the alternative finish of ideologically spectrum was Fedorov’s dynamic and hyper-industrialized metropolis of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, imagined from the angle 2025. Although politically right, it proved to be no much less of a pipe-dream.
Transferring from future visions to reminiscences of the previous, Vadim Bass focuses on Soviet conflict memorials. We normally consider memorial structure as being devoted to the preservation of serious occasions and figures of the previous, nevertheless as Bass argues they’re as a lot a response to the speedy current.
Bass seems to be at monuments to the Second World Struggle designed throughout the Struggle itself. Once more, the main focus just isn’t on the works themselves, however on the discourses that emerged round them. As Bass says, ‘essentially the most spectacular designs stay on paper’. One instance is the all-pervasive picture of the Palace of the Soviets, which was introduced at World exhibitions, in cinemas and in different propaganda media. The truth that no such constructing truly existed didn’t have an effect on its standing as a ‘reality’. In a way, Bass argues, all Soviet structure was constructed ‘within the shadow of the Palace of the Soviets’.
This text is a part of the three/2021 Eurozine assessment. Click on right here to subscribe to our weekly publication to get updates on opinions and our newest publishing.