Pop Up Storefront Los Angeles: CCCP
Friday April 11, 2008 – Saturday May 17, 2008
Pop Up Gallery Location:
7176 Sunset Blvd. (2 blocks west of La Brea, corner of Formosa)
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Friday, April 11
Wednesday – Friday, 3pm – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday, 1pm – 8pm
Pop-up Storefront LA is sponsored by American Apparel.
CCCP-Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed
Over the past five years, during the course of his travels in the former Soviet Union, French photographer Frederic Chaubin has documented an extensive collection of startling architectural artifacts born during the last two decades of the Cold War. Architects in the peripheral regions of the Eastern Bloc countries, working on governmental commissions during the ‘70s and ‘80s, enjoyed a surprising degree of creative freedom. Operating in a cultural context hermetically sealed from the influence of their Western counterparts, they drew inspiration from sources ranging from expressionism, science fiction, early European modernism and the Russian Suprematist legacy to produce an idiosyncratic, flamboyant and often imaginative architectural ménage. Unexpected in their contexts, these monumental buildings stand in stark contrast to the stereotypical understanding of late Soviet architecture in which monotonously repetitive urban landscapes were punctuated by vapid exercises in architectural propaganda.
The subjects of Chaubin’s photographs, scattered throughout Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, were all constructed during the last two decades of the Soviet era. Very few of their designers achieved anything more than local recognition, and until now these buildings have never been collectively documented or exhibited. The authors of many works remain unknown, and some have been destroyed since Chaubin’s photographs were taken. Concieved and executed during a moment of historical transition, they constitute one of the most surprising and least known legacies of the former USSR.
As well as presenting the architecture itself, CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed traces the intellectual and political undercurrents that act as a backdrop, and at times inspiration, for the work of these Soviet architects. The exhibition, a compendium of film stills, drawings, magazine articles and historical timelines, maps out the complex genealogy of this overlooked but compelling chapter in the history of 20th century design.
Frédéric Chaubin in Paris, France. He is editor in chief of the French lifestyle magazine Citizen K.
A conversation on Soviet Architecture in the 20th Century
A Pop-up Storefront Event Organaized in association with LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design Sunday April 13, 2pm (Location: Pop-Up Storefront LA) Frédéric Chaubin and Richard Pare, with Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture & Design at MoMA, NYC, and Joseph Grima, Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture, to celebrate the opening of the first Pop-Up Storefront in Los Angeles, and the opening of the exhibition CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, Pop-Up Storefront LA hosted a discussion on the topic of the Soviet architectural legacy of the 20th century. Drawing on accounts of the personal experiences of Richard Pare and Frederic Chaubin, the two photographers who have most extensively documented the current state of 20th century architecture in the former USSR, the discussion will be centered around the the potential of photography both as a tool for investigation and discovery and an instrument of archival preservation. Richard Pare’s exhibition Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922-1932 (MoMA, New York, July-October, 2007) and Frédéric Chaubin’s Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed (Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, April 2007) document two distinctly different periods in the history of Soviet architecture (1922-1932 and 1969-1989 respectively), but many of the same threats imperil the existence of the buildings captured so brilliantly in their photographs. At this poignant moment of social and political transformation in the the former USSR, the future of a century of architectural history remains uncertain, placing all the more importance on the photographic record.