Trespassing Modernities – Post-Stalinist Soviet Architecture

Lenin Palace, 1970, Almaty, Kazakhstan © Simona Rota

Lenin Palace, 1970, Almaty, Kazakhstan © Simona Rota

Here at Steppe we have a great passion for the Soviet architecture of the Central Asian states. As an expression of the progress of thought, whether state or personal, this architecture is a real eye opener, and is rightly, finally, finding its place in helping to define and deconstruct a very complex time. Frederic Chaubin’s book CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed (reviewed in Steppe 9) brought us wonderful photos of some of the most exotic examples of post-war Soviet architecture across the former republics of the USSR, but in the exhibition ‘Trespassing Modernities’ at Salt Galata in Istanbul,  Georg Schöllhammer delves deeper into the evolution of post-Stalinist Soviet architecture.

Following Stalin’s death in 1953,  the tenets of Socialist Realism were rejected in favour of a new urbanisation based on a drive towards scientific and technological progress. Architects developed a new form of late Soviet modernism drawing on both international architecture and Soviet modernism from the 1920s. By the 1960s, a counterculture had begun to emerge in which architects used both their physical distance from Moscow and their move away from the official architectural canon to stamp a new (often nationalist) identity on their modernist ideas.  The Central Asian republics are home to many of the most striking buildings from the 1960s onwards and are presented here with plans, scale models, drawings, photographs, films and ephemera.

Oh to be in Istanbul to see it…

Residential complex (Almaty, Kazakhstan) Photo: Markus Weisbeck (In the context of the project Local Modernities)

Residential complex (Almaty, Kazakhstan) Photo: Markus Weisbeck (In the context of the project Local Modernities)

Trespassing Modernities is at Salt Galata, Istanbul from 8 May – 11 August, 2013. The exhibition is based on the research of Local Modernities, a project by Georg Schöllhammer, Ruben Arevshatyan, Klaus Ronneberger, Markus Weisbeck and Heike Ander, which initiated the exhibition Soviet Modernism 1955-1991 Unknown Stories (2012) by Architekturzentrum Wien. For more information, click here.