November 11, 2019 - Canadian Centre for Architecture - Building a new New World
e-flux Architecture
November 11, 2019
November 11, 2019

Canadian Centre for Architecture

Boris M. Iofan, Project for the Palace of Soviets, Moscow, 1934. Collection of the Tchoban Foundation, Berlin.

 

Building a new New World
Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture
November 13, 2019–April 5, 2020

Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920 rue Baile
Montréal Québec H3H 2S6
Canada

www.cca.qc.ca
Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Building a new New World
Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture
November 13, 2019–April 5, 2020

Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920 rue Baile
Montréal Québec H3H 2S6
Canada

www.cca.qc.ca
Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Building a new New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture investigates how the technology and the culture of the USA shaped those of Russia, bracketed broadly by the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Until now, no studies had undertaken a comprehensive analysis of “Amerikanizm” in Russian architecture, which has mostly been seen through the prism of the high-rise buildings of the late Stalinist era. Through this first major study of Amerikanizm in the architecture of Russia, curator Jean-Louis Cohen provides a timely contribution to our understanding of modern architecture and its broader geopolitics by analyzing discourse, designs, and buildings, as well as politics, art, literature, cinema and technology.

The exhibition—which will be accompanied by a book and public programs—is the result of decades of dedicated research through which Cohen illustrates how Amerikanizm spanned all Russian political regimes through the long 20th century, from the Czarist reformers to the Bolshevik revolutionaries, and was much more acute than other similar phenomena that were also crucial to the modernization of Western Europe.

CCA Director Mirko Zardini sees this project as one that upholds the institution’s curatorial vision thanks to its research-based thematic approach. “Through the CCA’s critical curatorial framework and calculated exhibition design, Cohen interprets Amerikanizm as a multifaceted phantasmagoria—borrowing Walter Benjamin’s term for the stimulating and ominous spectacle of the commodity—that helped shape not only the built form but also the consciousness of one of the greatest global powers,” says Zardini.

On view within Building a new New World is a wide-ranging succession of images and objects in which architecture serves as the unifying thread, including photographs, books, maps, drawings, magazines, portraits, models, postcards, and film excerpts. Throughout the exhibition and the book, which will be published in early 2020, manifold networks are explored: recurring investigative journeys undertaken by Russian explorers, political leaders, and architects; the multitude of Russian publications devoted to the United States, from technical reports to poetry and novels; and the imagined forms and buildings inspired by American sources.

“The bilateral relationship between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America was paradoxical. Americans never aspired to turn their nation into a ‘new Russia,’ neither from a political nor a cultural standpoint, while generations of Russian politicians, intellectuals, and engineers envisioned modeling their country after the United States, hoping to cast it as a new America,” states Cohen.

By analyzing buildings, factories, industrial infrastructure, urban planning and product design, Building a new New World rewrites the history of Russian architecture and urban design in light of this enduring Amerikanizm. The narrative is underlined by an expanded definition of architecture and culture that encompasses industrial and graphic design, music, photography, film, and literature.

Building a new New World is curated by Jean-Louis Cohen, with exhibition design and graphic design by MG&Co. (Houston) and map design by Studio Folder (Milan).

For more on the exhibition, visit the CCA’s Press Room.

The publication
Building a new New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture is accompanied by a book of the same title by Jean-Louis Cohen, which will feature 450 illustrations and will be available available in English and French editions in February 2020. Co-published by the CCA and Yale University Press in English and Hazan in French, the book follows the themes of the exhibition within a broader interpretive narrative. It will be available online and in-store through the CCA Bookstore, and distributed to select bookstores internationally.

#BuildinganewNewWorld #CCAexhibitions #readCCA

About the CCA
The Canadian Centre for Architecture is an international research institution and museum operating from the fundamental premise that architecture is a public concern. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the CCA’s founding in 1979 by Phyllis Lambert as a new type of cultural institution charged with increasing public awareness of the role of architecture in contemporary society and promoting research in the field.

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