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Frédéric Chaubin. CCCP. Cosmic Communist…
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Frédéric Chaubin. CCCP. Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed… (edição: 2011)

de Frederic Chaubin (Fotógrafo)

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Photographer Frédéric Chaubin reveals 90 buildings sited in 14 former Soviet Republics which express what he considers to be the fourth age of Soviet architecture. His poetic pictures reveal an unexpected rebirth of imagination, an unknown burgeoning that took place from 1970 until 1990. Contrary to the 1920s and 1950s, no "school" or main trend emerges here. These buildings represent a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system. Their diversity announced the end of the Soviet Union. Taking advantage of the collapsing monolithic structure, the holes in the widening net, architects went far beyond modernism, going back to the roots or freely innovating. Some of the daring ones completed projects that the Constructivists would have dreamt of (Druzhba Sanatorium, Yalta), others expressed their imagination in an expressionist way (Palace of Weddings, Tbilisi). A summer camp, inspired by sketches of a prototype lunar base, lays claim to Suprematist influence (Prometheus youth camp, Bogatyr). Then comes the "speaking architecture" widespread in the last years of the USSR: a crematorium adorned with concrete flames (Crematorium, Kiev), a technological institute with a flying saucer crashed on the roof (Institute of Scientific Research, Kiev), a political center watching you like Big Brother (House of Soviets, Kaliningrad). This puzzle of styles testifies to all the ideological dreams of the period, from the obsession with the cosmos to the rebirth of identity. It also outlines the geography of the USSR, showing how local influences made their exotic twists before the country was brought to its end.Frédéric Chaubin's Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed was elected best book on architecture of the year 2010 by the International Artbook and Film Festival in Perpignan, France (Festival International du Livre d'Art & du Film Perpignan).… (mais)
Membro:DoomBooks
Título:Frédéric Chaubin. CCCP. Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed (Multilingual, English, French and German Edition)
Autores:Frederic Chaubin (Fotógrafo)
Informação:Taschen (2011), Edition: Multilingual, 312 pages
Coleções:Art
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Frederic Chaubin: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed de Frederic Chaubin

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Aliens have Landed!
And they landed in,....The former Soviet Union, and this book proofs it.
Seriously, the book(regarding the photography) is outstanding(the bigger edition as there are also small(er) editions on the market).
Some of these buildings are downright hideous, but in a fascinating way. ( )
1 vote hvg | Feb 16, 2018 |
The words "exuberant" or "idiosyncratic" don't usually pop into one's mind when one hears the words "Soviet architecture." The usual description of Soviet architecture involves unimaginative gray concrete structures created to fit the vision of a totalitarian state. Photographer Frederic Chaubin sought to prove otherwise upon his discovery of a radically energetic architectural aesthetic that arose during the latter days of the Soviet empire. "Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed", despite its gimmicky title, offers a revisionist overview of this architecture.

Chaubin's introduction is written in an arch yet playful manner, throwing references to Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida and the movie Zardoz. The buildings photographed fall into five general categories (entertainment, science, sports, health, and monuments). To get the flavor, the section on health is entitled "Health and Resorts: from seaside phalansteries to hidden villas" and the entertainment section is "Entertainment and Culture: variations on monumental lyricism." However, don't be thrown by the intellectual pretentiousness of the section titles, since visual wonderment is in store. In each section, we are presented with examples of Soviet architecture that debunk the mythology that associates Soviet State-directed architectural projects as boring, gray, and oppressive. Chaubin chose examples from the geographic periphery. The structures exhibit signs of a specific ethnic heritage or the idiosyncratic whims of the architect.

Chaubin puts forward two theories on this late-flowering creativity:

Hypothesis: the inertia of the Soviet machine, too busy putting off its own demise, let work it commissioned on its margins float free of its control. In this sense it is surely no coincidence if most of these specimens came into existence on the fringes -- the Polish border, the Caucasus, or on the Black Sea.

Counter-hypothesis: these projects were not ignored but actively encouraged. After Brezhnev and nearly twenty years of stagnation, Russia under Andropov suddenly grew bolder. The need was felt to freshen up the image of a country disfigured by several decades of architectural cloning. After the Second World War, the proletarian paradise was covered with forests of concrete housing, the "khrushchevka."

Chaubin doesn't provide a definitive answer to this. How could he? The challenges are many. The post-Soviet Russia demolished many of these buildings. The autobiographies, monographs, and academic journals that chronicled this late period movement remained opaque since Chaubin didn't speak the language. Funding difficulties would also arise, since many New Russians would simply not waste precious income supporting and preserving buildings associated with the dark night of Soviet totalitarianism.

What we are left with is Chaubin's "archaeology of the present." What began as a whimsical photographic hobby became more important -- socially, historically, aesthetically -- as the times changed and buildings disappeared. With the tools available, Chaubin gives the reader an important overview of a little known facet of Soviet history. The book is perfect for fans of Dark Roasted Blend, self-styled architecture nerds like Ted Mosby, and those curious about the USSR's later history.

Out of 10: 8.9

http://www.cclapcenter.com/2012/02/cosmic_communist_constructions.html

http://driftlessareareview.com/2012/02/24/cccpcclap/ ( )
  kswolff | Feb 24, 2012 |
A substantial book depicting the wonders of Soviet architecture in the last twenty years of the Soviet Union. Lavishly produced, it is the record of Frédéric Chaubin's odyssey to record these buildings before they are swept away or fall down of their own accord.

There is much to marvel at in this book. There are incidentals of life in the former USSR, as seen in the street scenes surrounding some of the buildings, the implications of a building called "The Palace of Weddings", or buildings that are the permanent headquarters of the various State Circuses, or even the Central Puppet Theatre of Moscow. There are the designs, which often outstrip the ability of the State to construct well, or maintain at all. There is the reality of the execution of the buildings - it's a long time since I've seen so much concrete! - and of their maintenance (or lack thereof).

Some of the buildings are quite remarkable, as long as you like Le Corbusier-style monolithic blocks. Others do show genuine thought and care in their design. Some buildings are very telling - there is a section devoted to the summer villas of the Politburo leadership. And for sheer - well, bad taste? astonishing inappropriateness? - turn to page 282 and feast your eyes on the Sorrow Palace of Ritual Services in Kaunas, Lithuania. The clue's in the name to start with. It's bad enough that this crematorium - itself an assortment of concrete columns, ramps and buttresses - has been badly maintained, is set in a weed-ridden driveway of broken paving slabs, has no detail on its entryway or main door and was photographed on a gray, overcast day. But just to complete the ensemble, someone decided that it would be a good idea to put two statuary figures outside. These figures are two, twenty-foot high stylised cowled figures with their heads bowed in mourning. Whether by design or by accident of weathering, the darkness under the figures' cowls where the faces would be is extended down to ground level, suggesting an unstoppable torrent of tears. The overall effect is so depressing it could make some readers suicidal. Even the caption writer calls it "lugubrious", and that's an under-statement!

Yet on the facing page is another Lithuanian funeral chapel which is quite a distinctive and almost attractive building.

The book is beautifully presented and would grace any coffee table of a person with unconventional taste. Certainly, some of the buildings shown fall into the "so bad they're good" category. The book itself, though, is very good. ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Oct 4, 2011 |
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Photographer Frédéric Chaubin reveals 90 buildings sited in 14 former Soviet Republics which express what he considers to be the fourth age of Soviet architecture. His poetic pictures reveal an unexpected rebirth of imagination, an unknown burgeoning that took place from 1970 until 1990. Contrary to the 1920s and 1950s, no "school" or main trend emerges here. These buildings represent a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system. Their diversity announced the end of the Soviet Union. Taking advantage of the collapsing monolithic structure, the holes in the widening net, architects went far beyond modernism, going back to the roots or freely innovating. Some of the daring ones completed projects that the Constructivists would have dreamt of (Druzhba Sanatorium, Yalta), others expressed their imagination in an expressionist way (Palace of Weddings, Tbilisi). A summer camp, inspired by sketches of a prototype lunar base, lays claim to Suprematist influence (Prometheus youth camp, Bogatyr). Then comes the "speaking architecture" widespread in the last years of the USSR: a crematorium adorned with concrete flames (Crematorium, Kiev), a technological institute with a flying saucer crashed on the roof (Institute of Scientific Research, Kiev), a political center watching you like Big Brother (House of Soviets, Kaliningrad). This puzzle of styles testifies to all the ideological dreams of the period, from the obsession with the cosmos to the rebirth of identity. It also outlines the geography of the USSR, showing how local influences made their exotic twists before the country was brought to its end.Frédéric Chaubin's Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed was elected best book on architecture of the year 2010 by the International Artbook and Film Festival in Perpignan, France (Festival International du Livre d'Art & du Film Perpignan).

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