Conference:(De)constructing Utopia: Design in Eastern Europe from Thaw to Perestroika (Sheffield, May 2-3, 2014)

(DE)CONSTRUCTING UTOPIA: DESIGN IN EASTERN EUROPE FROM THAW TO PERESTROIKA

Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, May 2nd–3rd 2014
Convened by Tom Cubbin and Yulia Karpova
Email: sotsdesign@gmail.com

For more information on the workshop, including registration details and a full set of abstracts and speakers biographies, please visit the workshop’s website at http://deconstructingutopia.wordpress.com/
Registration for this event is essential, so if you would like to attend, please click on the Registration link on the site. The event is free to attend.

This two-day workshop will bring together members of academic and cultural institutions from across Europe and Russia in order to discuss key concepts, individuals, organisations and turning points that comprise the history of design in post-war Eastern Europe. In recent years, study of design has emerged as a unique way of understanding socialist culture due to the way it links societal ideals with economics, scientific and technological progress, consumption, the material practises of daily life, the imagined West and broader artistic culture.

While material culture studies have made a significant contribution to historians’ understanding of post-war life in socialist countries, a broader understanding of how the design profession sought to both construct and criticise the material environment of socialism is only just beginning to emerge. Through discussions generated by the workshop, we will consider the main aesthetic turning points of design in socialism in relation to socio-political contexts. By considering various approaches to design across the Eastern Bloc, we would also like to explore commonalities and exchanges among former Eastern Bloc countries. Finally, we would like to consider how museums and collections have presented this history. What role does design heritage play in contemporary post-socialist society?

Schedule of Events

Friday 2nd May

9:45 – 10:15 REGISTRATION

10:15 – 10:30 WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

10:30 – 12:50 PANEL 1: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives on Socialist Design

How did socialist design cultures differ? What were the basic principles that defined ‘socialist design’ in different national contexts? This set of papers combines synoptic study of national design cultures with analysis of specific moments of international exchange in socialist design. Chaired by Grace-Lees Maffei (University of Hertfordshire)

10:30 – 10:55 Design Theory and Self Management in Socialism: The Yugoslav Case in a Panoramic Survey (Fedja Vukić, University of Zagreb)

10:55 – 11:20 Building up a Design Culture in the German Democratic Republic: Parallels and Differences to Design in the West (Siegfried Gronert, Bauhaus University, Weimar)

11:20 – 11:45 “Design for Man and Mankind”: VNIITE hosts ICSID ’75 Moscow (Margareta Tillberg, Stockholm University)

11:45 – 12:10 Hungarian Design in the light of the Zsennye Workshop: 1978-2014 (András Szilági, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)

12:10 – 12:50 Discussion

12:50 – 14:00 BUFFET LUNCH

Lunch is free for speakers and chairs. If those attending would like to join us, please let us know by 25th April and bring £7 on the day. This is to ensure the workshop remains free of charge for as many people as possible.

14:00 – 16:20 PANEL 2: Skill, labour and identity in socialist artistic production

Emerging as a new and ambitious profession in the 1960s, socialist design was quite strongly tied to the traditional spheres of decorative art and peasant craft, where labor and skill were often perceived as more meaningful ingredients than novelty and experiment. Is it possible to define more or less clear borders between art, design and craft in the context of socialist production, or, rather, one should focus on their interaction and the benefits it could bring? This panel brings together papers dealing with professional identities in their relation to artistic labor, hierarchies within artistic/design communities, and the role(s) of craft in creating modern environments. Chaired by Susan E. Reid (University of Sheffield)

14:00 – 14:25 The Afterlife of Suprematism: Malevich’s legacy in Leningrad applied art and design (Yulia Karpova, Central European University, Budapest)

14:25 – 14:50 History in the Making: Experiment Invalidovna, Prague 1961 (Rebecca Bell, Royal College of Art)

14:50 – 15:15 Neither a real artist, nor a designer: Art labourers in the Riga Porcelain Factory and output in the Soviet period (Iliana Veinberga – Art Academy of Latvia, Riga)

15:15 – 15:40 The Creation of a New Professional Identity (Mari Laanemets, Institute of Art History, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn)

15:40 – 16:20 Discussion

16:20 – 16:50 TEA AND COFFEE

16:50 – 17:30 SPECIAL GUEST LECTURE: IRINA KOSTENKO (Moscow, formerly VNIITE)

THE DESIGN CENTRE IN MOSCOW DURING THE LATE SOVIET PERIOD

17:30 – 18:00 WINE

SATURDAY 3rd May

9:45 – 10:00 REGISTRATION

10:00 – 12:20 PANEL 3: From projects to environments: postmodern turns in socialist design?

If postmodernism is the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’ how do we interpret the aesthetic strategies of architects and designers during late socialism? While the turn towards environment and critical re-evaluation of past utopian thought have been seen as important elements in the production of the postmodern aesthetic in Western architecture, there has been relatively little discussion of similar strategies in the East. The papers in this panel address the topic from a range of perspectives including the production of theory, paper and cardboard architecture and socialist architects’ engagements outside of the Eastern bloc. (Chair TBC)

10:00 – 10:25 From Environment to Milieu via Berlin – Marzahn: The urbanism of the in-between in socialist East Germany (Torsten Lange, Institute for history and Theory of Architecture, Zürich)

10:25 – 10:50 Designing for the Socialist Present? Post-Utopian Practice in Soviet Urban Design of the 1970s (Tom Cubbin, University of Sheffield/Royal College of Art)

10:50 – 11:15 Deterritorializing Utopia: “Paper Architecture” in Moscow, 1984 (Andres Kurg, Institute of Art History, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn)

11:15 – 11:40 Postmodernism is Almost All Right. Polish Architecture After Socialist Golbalization (Łukas Stanek, University of Manchester)

11:40 – 12:20 Discussion

12:20 – 13:30 BUFFET LUNCH

Lunch is free of charge for speakers and chairs. If those attending would like lunch, please let us know by 25th April and bring £7 on the day. This is to ensure the workshop remains free of charge for as many people as possible.

13:30 – 15:15 PANEL 4: Curating Socialist Design

What formats of collecting and exhibiting can most effectively preserve and present the history of socialist design? The 2008 exhibition Cold War Modern. Design 1945−1970 (V&A, curated by David Crowley and Jane Pavitt) presented design as a powerful aspect of Cold War history, echoing the approach to socialist design characteristic of scholarly works of the 2000s. However, there are, presumably, multiple ways for curators to work outside of a cold-war framework, such as introducing local histories or problematizing the commodity as both the object of design quality and site of boring socialist everydayness. The papers in this panel discuss these new curatorial strategies and opportunities.

13:30 – 13:55 Modernization in the Baltic during the 1960s: (Lolita Jalonskiene, National Gallery of Art, Vilnius)

13:55 – 14:20 “Soviet Design” – Reflections on Moscow Design Museum’s First Exhibition (Alexandra Sankova, Moscow Design Musuem)

14:20 ­– 14:45 Things to Use: Design Objects in Everyday History (Andreas Ludwig, Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam)

14:45 – 15:15 Discussion

15:15 – 15:45 TEA AND COFFEE

15:45 – 16:45 KEYNOTE LECTURE: DAVID CROWLEY (ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART)

THE OTHER CHILDREN OF MARX AND COCA-COLA: POP ART AND CINEMA IN EASTERN EUROPE

16:45 – 17:00 BREAK

17:00 – 17:45 DISCUSSION:

NEW DIRECTIONS FOR SOCIALIST DESIGN HISTORY (CHAIRED BY TOM CUBBIN AND YULIA KARPOVA)

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