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Friday, October 26, 2007

Russia Slowly Destroying Architectural Gems

A letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal:

Russia Slowly Destroying Architectural Gems
October 23, 2007; Page A17

In regard to Ada Louise Huxtable's Oct. 3 Leisure & Arts article "Soviet Modernist Architecture Is Rediscovered at MoMA":

In discussing my work, Ms. Huxtable wrote: "After decades of suppression and denial by the Soviet Union that they even existed, 74 of these lost and forgotten buildings have been rediscovered and documented by the photographer Richard Pare. He has traveled across the former Soviet Union from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Kiev, Kharkov, Baku, and Sochi along the Black Sea, making nine trips over 14 years in search of his subject."


I regret to report that major changes have come to my attention since the show opened. Two structures that Ms. Huxtable particularly singled out, the Red Banner factory in St. Petersburg and the bakery in Moscow, now face an uncertain future. The factory is abandoned, its present status unknown, and the bakery was stripped of its machinery to be turned into a "cultural centre." The bakery chimney, a landmark in the area, will be destroyed. After more than 70 years of virtually continuous operation, a miracle of efficiency has been swept away.

Other recent losses include the Pravda newspaper building, burned down about 18 months ago. Elsewhere the Dinamo Club diving board in Kiev has disappeared, the Palace of the Press in Baku has been renovated with predictable results, and the Gosprom Complex in Kharkov has been painted and fitted out with new windows.

The destruction and disintegration of the Avantgarde legacy all over the old Soviet Union continues unabated, with only a handful of encouraging signs. The most significant is the arrival on the scene of the Russian Avantgarde Foundation, which is setting about a major conservation effort to restore the Melnikov House.

In Moscow there are such pressures on the existing fabric of the city that it has become unrecognizable since my first visit in 1993. It is a calculated assault led by greed and vanity. Nothing is immune to the destruction, and the laws regarding listed buildings and heritage sites are being undermined or subverted.

Many key buildings, even those that survived the fire of 1812, have recently disappeared. It is wiping out the heritage and urban texture of the city and tearing at its very heart. In contrast, what is being erected to replace the demolished buildings is brash and inappropriate, an attack on the character of the city as significant as the onslaught of destruction that precedes it.

Richard Pare
Montclair, N.J.

1 comment:

Artfldgr said...

Aehrenfeld, Brunnental, Alt Dönhof, Frank, Herzog, Josefstal, Nichnaja Dobrinka, Norka, Obermunjou, Preuss, Saratov, Schönchen, Straub, and Yost...

are all names of churches destroyed by the communists.

they generally have no love of these symbols of nationalism, and such
(kind of dangerous to the kind of leadership they provide).
they dont want culture... and in general, if you read enough of the works,
you figure out that they are looking for homogenizing the lower population
(like horses, and cows, cats and such. more alike than not). however the elite
who "take care of them" and "provide for them", dont homogenize that way as they
create dynasties, in which the children they have are guaranteed to do ok (and
not be threatened by a population that has, as adorno said been "forced retarded").

in a way it makes sense, only what they think is important as they are the anointed that know whats best for the
pets in their charge (and who wants a sentimental cat).

laws of a state do not easily get undermined. think about it, this type of thing happens only in certain areas.
even in the west. what it amounts to is that the state no longer wishes to have those laws, and since they cant remove
them without notice, they cause them to not be acted on.

the blame though is not foisted on the state, but onto the people that are said to undermine the law.

in immigration in the US its rampant... but in most other areas,
its not really that possible, its prosecuted if found.

so the reason i said its the communist/soviet leadership is that the need to remind a
state to do what it is supposed to do as if parts of it go numb, is ridiculous.

however it allows there to be things to stop the blame from reaching the proper place if thats the way they play it.

look how it operates, its classical... first its the people who undermine... but if you think a bit, they have to be allowed. so the blame goes up only one notch.
then you say well they are being allowed so it must be the worker that allows them. but if you think about it, that makes no sense on a broader scale than one or two... so the blame goes up only one notch.
then you say well its the administrator. but that makes no sense since they are coming in and being paid to do a job, and if they are not doing it, then it must be the lack of the boss caring, or the boss is ordering them.

the point is that as you work this up the chain, you realize its policy and their method of getting what they want by sidestepping the population.
and if the population is not side stepped, then the waves can only wash up so far.. but the general public is not usually smart enough to work their way up the ladder.
even if they do, doing so puts them in a uncomfortable ethics position, that can be aleviated by not asking.

so if the leadership doesnt care or wants an outcome, it happens most of the time...
thinking that people undermine it, and its not known, and such is a false view, and has them chasing the wrong people.