Flying Utopia

Flying Utopia, installation view, Clinical Architectures for a Compositionist Future, CAMERA PLUS. Biennial of contemporary photography and moving image, CCF, Iasi, 2016

Flying Utopia, installation view, Tranzit.sk, Bratislava, 2015
The phenomenon of mass housing constitutes the common denominator of a couple of the exhibited works, and brings about some parallelisms between the Romanian and Slovak contexts. In the second half of the 20th century both societies underwent a second wave of modernisation within a totalitarian system and communist ideology. Mass housing responded to the acute lack of dwellings after the war and to the need to raise people's living standards; the once utopian ideals of the architectural avant-garde were put into practice with the enthusiasm of a new beginning. At the same time, the overreaching control of the state, the ideological dominance of political power, followed by economic decline cleared the project of its substance, with criticism of modernist architecture and public housing being equated with criticism of the communist system. In the 80's in Slovakia the modernist architectural project became exhausted and post-modernism appeared partially as its critique. Meanwhile in Romania the post-modern turn was marked by Ceausescu's dramatic enterprise: he demolished vast parts of the cities in order to make place for his megalomaniac construction plans, establishing in this way a radical connection between erasure, memory and construction, the effects of which last until today. Nonetheless, one-dimensional judgements which do not distinguish between the ideals of a better society and the social systems built upon these ideas are as erroneous as viewing modernist architecture as a complete failure, instead of evaluating its particular achievements, especially in the realm of complex urban planning.
Spatial articulation is present in the exhibited banner as well. The starting point is the aerial view of Jurigovo namestie in Karlova Ves in Bratislava, which the artists visited last year. They were impressed by the actuality of this "complete residential constrution", in which spatial organisation, the design of apartment blocks and the provision of public facilities were part of a complex, all-encompassing process of urban planning.* It is an example that stands in sharp contrast with today's "investors' baroque", where financial interests overshadow aesthetic and social needs.**
Sewed on banner is the quasi abstract, avant-garde type image of Jurigovo namestie, which is ready for take-off, to start its journey as a flying utopia.
text by Judit Angel, Flying Utopia, tranzit.sk, 2015.

* Architecture and Public Space, in Bratislava Atlas sidlisk / Bratislava Atlas of Mass Housing, Authors: Henrieta Moravcikova, Maria Topolcanska, Matus Dulla, Katarina Haberlandova, Slavka Toscherova, Peter Szalay, Sona Scepanova. Slovart, Bratislava, p. 41.
** On the table, under the table. Interview with Stefan Svetko, in Eastmodern. Architecture and Design of the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia, eds. Herta Hurnaus, Benjamin Konrad, Maik Novotny, Springer Wien New York, 2007, p. 207.
 
   

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