Third Text, 153: Actually Existing Artworlds of Socialism (2018)

29 May 2019, dusan

“The tensions between actual and ideal versions of socialism elucidated by East German theorist Rudolf Bahro in 1977 are taken as a starting point for reconsidering East European art from the radical effervescence of the 1960s to the post-utopian twilight of the late 1970s. The special issue is premised on the concept that artistic life in Eastern Europe was profoundly shaped by the structures, conventions and workings of the overarching system, with artists and critics compelled to negotiate its productive contradictions. It examines the quotidian functioning of art scenes across the region that entailed the drawing up of tacit compromises and maintenance of calculated ambiguities in relations between party authorities and artists. Ultimately it was the latent and unrealised promise of actually existing socialism as much as its demonstrative failings that marked a crucial difference in the attitude of East European artists to the utopian reverberations of the era.”

With texts by Maja Fowkes & Reuben Fowkes, Tomáš Pospiszyl, Tomasz Załuski, Zsuzsa László, Daniel Grúň, Candice M Hamelin, Hana Buddeus, Alina Șerban, Raino Isto, Sonja Simonyi, Marko Ilić, and Armin Medosch.

Edited by Reuben Fowkes
Publisher Routledge, July 2018
ISSN 0952-8822
194 pages

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Alexei Gutnov, et al: The Ideal Communist City (1966–) [RU, EN]

25 April 2019, dusan

“The Soviet group of architects New Element of Settlement (NER) was invited to the 1968 Milan Triennale by Giancarlo De Carlo, following the publication of their influential book NER, On the Way to a New City (1966). They were asked to present their plans for an ideal communist city in the section devoted to “transformations of the physical environment.” Their installation was one of the few in the exhibition that provided a critical response to the culture of consumerism, in tune with ongoing student revolts.

The concept of NER was first developed in 1957 as a diploma project by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArkhI). As students, NER members studied the elements of the city, its quantitative and qualitative characteristics, eventually dismissing traditional planning principles in favor of a new approach to urban development as a dynamic process. Drawing on Marxism, they sought to provide a spatial agenda for the communist ideology, representing the younger generation of thinkers in the radical split of the Soviet architectural profession following de-Stalinization. They actively criticized the state of Soviet urban planning, arguing that “today, the city is not fulfilling its primary purpose to be an organic living environment.”

In late 1968, De Carlo wrote an introduction for NER’s influential publication, The Ideal Communist City. In their radical proposal, NER attempted to provide a spatial agenda for Marxism, drawing both from the Communist Manifesto and the Constructivist avant-garde of the 1920s. NER’s new city was based on creative communication in a classless society, in which the city was no longer dependent on its industrial center but instead formed around a center of communication, independent from the economic characteristics of the city. The major shift brought in by this new urban wave—later implemented by one of its members, Alexei Gutnov, within the curriculum of MArkhI—was to see the city as a living organism, in which cells would be born and eventually die. This led to a change in the status of architectural form: it was conceived as temporary and mobile—its birth implied the process of its imminent destruction. This approach anticipated the later understanding of architecture as an activity or as environment—form was no longer relevant because it hindered the organic processes within the dying city. The system emphasized the correspondence between urban structures and social relationships in communism, based on the reading of the urban plan as “simultaneously a symbol of the idea and a program for its realization.”” (Masha Panteleyeva, Radical Pedagogies)

English edition
By Alexei Gutnov, A. Baburov, G. Djumenton, S. Kharitonova, I. Lezava, S. Sadovskij, of Moscow University
Translated by Renee Neu Watkins
Preface by Giancarlo de Carlo
Publisher George Braziller, New York, [1971]
i Press Series on the Human Environment
ISBN 080760576X 9780807605769
166 pages
via Outlaw Urbanist

Reviews: Kenneth Frampton (Architectural Forum, 1972), Outlaw Urbanist (2016).
Commentary: Alicia Kurimska (Center for Opportunity Urbanism, 2015).

Wikipedia (RU)
WorldCat

Novyy element rasseleniya: na puti k novomu gorodu (Новый элемент расселения: на пути к новому городу, Russian, 1966, 22 MB, via)
The Ideal Communist City (English, trans. Renee Neu Watkins, [1971], 4 MB)

Katalin Cseh-Varga, Adam Czirak (eds.): Performance Art in the Second Public Sphere: Event-Based Art in Late Socialist Europe (2018)

16 March 2019, dusan

Performance Art in the Second Public Sphere is the first interdisciplinary analysis of performance art in East, Central and Southeast Europe under socialist rule. By investigating the specifics of event-based art forms in these regions, each chapter explores the particular, critical roles that this work assumed under censorial circumstances.

The artistic networks of Yugoslavia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, East Germany and Czechoslovakia are discussed with a particular focus on the discourses that shaped artistic practice at the time, drawing on the methods of Performance Studies and Media Studies as well as more familiar reference points from art history and area studies.”

Contributors: Roddy Hunter, Miško Šuvaković, Dietmar Unterkofler, Ileana Pintilie, Cristian Nae, Andrej Mirčev, Andrea Bátorová, Berenika Szymanski-Düll, Kata Krasznahorkai, Laine Kristberga, Adam Czirak, Amy Bryzgel, Jasmina Tumbas, Beáta Hock, Angelika Richter, Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes.

Publisher Routledge, London, 2018
ISBN 9781138723276, 1138723274
xii+263 pages

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