"Abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity"
July 13, 2016 1:00 PM   Subscribe

"Power and Architecture" is the name of the Calvert 22 Foundation's "season on utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world." Included in the "curated digital content" being published as part of the season is "Restricted Areas," a series by Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko, who photographs "abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity.”

What's available online from the season so far, and what's coming up:

Part 1: Utopia and Modernity
12 June — 3 July 2016

In the opening show, six artists will reflect on the modernist vision of the socialist city and consider the real and imagined futures of utopia.

Beauty and the east: Is it time to kick our addiction to ruin porn?

Heaven and earth: The DIY architects behind communist Poland's amazing wave of hand-built churches

Imperial pomp: Life in the shadow of the post-Soviet high-rise

Promised land: Meet the artist mapping the mythology of the post-Soviet landscape

Palace coups: Reconstructing history in the heart of Berlin

Empire state of mind: How do you update a vast Stalinist exhibition space for the present day?

City of disappearances: How do you start a conservation movement in a Moscow turning its back on the past?

Arch of history: What the ruins of Palmyra reveal about conflicting visions of the East and the West

Part 2: Dead space and ruins
7 July – 7 August 2016

Four artists working with photography and film 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.

Block party: Meet the people who live among the brutalist edifices of New Belgrade

A tale of two cities: Ryan Koopmans photographs the old and new capitals of Kazakhstan

Lost empire: Eric Lusito searched for abandoned Soviet military bases. What he found was amazing

Snow ghosts: Haunting images of derelict Soviet infrastructure

Part 3: Citizen activated space - Museum of Skateboarding
11 August – 11 September 2016

Part three is a new commission by Calvert 22 Foundation that will explore the individual’s participation in the activation of public space with Russian artist Kirill Savchenkov.

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.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (12 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Tkachenko's snowy images are gorgeous and haunting, but the first thing I thought when I saw the sub was, "Hey! You can't park that here!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2016

Man, those Snow Ghosts pics are amazing. Gotta hand it to the Soviets, when it comes to not-of-this-world industrial design.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:58 PM on July 13, 2016

Great post, and man, I've got to remember to visit the Calvert Journal more often! I don't know if I'll ever have time to read all the links, but having dived into a couple: yeah, Tkachenko's images are amazing, and Jamie Rann's "Is it time to kick our addiction to ruin porn?" essay is maddening—some thoughtful remarks mixed with ill-digested and/or irrelevant ruminations that are just confusing when mashed together. I mean:
In fact, ruin photography can be seen as a factor in a general shift in the perception of Russia and the Soviet Union: the superpower has not lost its reputation for strictness and inhuman grandeur, but now this — for better and for worse — is combined with a sense that the Soviet world is, from an aesthetic point of view, ready to be mined for content by the contemporary culture industry.
What sense does that make? Everything is "ready to be mined for content by the contemporary culture industry"; is that a bad thing? Is the "culture industry" supposed to not talk about certain subjects because... what, they're historically contentious? At one point he says there's actually nothing wrong with it, but the general tone of the essay is the usual finger-wagging "isn't this problematic!" of the modern (quasi-)academic thumbsucker. And the conclusion: "We’re not going to stop slavering over broken-bricks-and-mortar pin ups with intriguing exotic accoutrements, but let’s try, at least for a moment, to think before we click." Why? Why not think after we click? Is there something wrong with clicking? If there is, he sure doesn't make it clear. And I for one am not ready to dispense with Tkachenko's images, and I don't think Rann is either—he's just maundering on.
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I've got to get hold of Architecture of Oblivion once used copies are available at a reasonable price!
posted by languagehat at 3:25 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Courtesy of Danila Tkachenko, when global warming requires me to move to Siberia in order to grow what are now considered temperate zone crops, at least I know where World Domination Headquarters PG will be located.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:31 PM on July 13, 2016

The Tkachenko photos are strikingly beautiful. I feel, however, that the text alongside them perhaps exaggerates a little how 'abandoned' some of the photo subjects are in reality - a number of the photos were taken in the outdoor exhibition areas of major museums.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:54 PM on July 13, 2016

In an international context, however, the objectifying gaze of the ruin photographer can be revealing

i think it's ok to be objectifying when you're photographing objects calvertjournal
posted by Sebmojo at 6:30 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think it's total bullshit that somehow soviet or Asian or whatever sites are being uniquely exploited. People like to look at interesting things. People like to look at beautiful things. There are lots of beautiful and interesting things to take pictures of. Some places have more concentrated opportunities for photographing beautiful and interesting things (both because of the prevalence of the beautiful and interesting things and because of increased opportunity to access those things without being jailed for it). These areas exist in Western countries too, and lots of ruin photography takes place there too.

Political correctness has gone way overboard, and it is the thing that needs to be stopped, not the capturing of beautiful interesting images.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 6:59 PM on July 13, 2016

Well, here's my reading for the weekend.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:31 PM on July 13, 2016

Instant pop-up on the first link: "Hello, can you help us make The Calvin Journal better? [TAKE A SURVEY]" I hammer the [X] instead - because apart from anything else, I haven't even had a chance to examine the page yet. The pop-up swallows my click but does not go away - it continues to cover the bottom third of my screen. So I hammer the [X] on the browser tab. That works.

I'm sure this could be a fun rabbit-hole, but badly-behaved scripts are the sort of thing up with which I will not put.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2016

i think it's ok to be objectifying when you're photographing objects

Tut tut. Has half a century of postmordern philosophy taught you nothing?

(no, me neither)
posted by Devonian at 5:29 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tom Tomorrow on Twitter:

also (1)(a) if there are any Russia experts, very curious abt location of copy of Monument to the Conquerors of Space in arctic snowscape.

The answer:

It's taken from ground level, below the grass. Telephoto to compress distance.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:04 AM on July 14, 2016

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