Dublin Castle, June 2 - 04, 2016
Deadline: Sep 30, 2015
Beyond Constructivism: Soviet Early-Modernist Architecture Revisited
Panel at European Architectural History Network Fourth International Meeting Dublin Castle
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to the conference website along with applicant’s name, professional affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.
Architectural production of the two decades after the October Revolution is often, from the perspective of a Western architectural historian, neatly divided into two eras: that of “Constructivism” in the 1920s and that of “Socialist Realism” in the 1930s. However, this periodization might be considered too neat. The dichotomy of Constructivism and Socialist Realism is based on an assumption that the course of Soviet architecture directly mirrored the changes in the political regime—an assumption that simplifies the complex and complicate character of early-Soviet architectural theory. For example, whereas Classicism and Expressionism enjoyed a noticeable presence in Soviet architecture during the 1920s, in the subsequent decade, the former avant-gardists created prominent experimental works that offered their vision of the new Soviet architecture. Moreover, in subsuming all avant—garde production under the notion of “Constructivism,” architectural history follows a tradition developed by art historians, who singled out a movement that, as it seemed, presaged the forms of post-Second-World-War American art. In fact, however, apart from the work of the Constructivist OSA group, Soviet architectural avant-garde entailed a vast variety of non-Constructivist movements and practices, such as Nikolai Ladovskii’s Rationalism, Il’ia Golosov and Konstantin Mel’nikov’s neo-Expressionist fascination with form, or Iakov Chernikhov’s architectural fantasies. By challenging reductive periodization, architectural historians can better grasp the complexity of Soviet early-modernist architectural landscape, stylistic overlaps, and the diversity of practices and theories that constituted it. The aim of this panel is to go beyond the notion of Constructivism as a style-based label for the Soviet avant-garde and to present to the public academic work on the rich and stylistically and ideologically dissonant field of architectural innovation in design education, visual repertoires, politics of artistic production, and design for everyday life. We welcome papers that present alternative accounts of Soviet Interwar modernity and its relationship to institutions of power and the scientific, artistic, political discourses of the time.