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Alexander Brodsky explores iconic Soviet concrete fence in latest oeuvre

“Villa PO-2,” the funeral of the fly, and other highlights of Archstoyanie – Russia’s largest land art and architecture festival.

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Anton Timofeyev and Alexander Brodsky / Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

This year’s Archstoyanie featured one built structure by revered Russian architect and artist Alexander Brodsky, while the rest of the festival program consisted of performances and projects examining life cycles and the daily rituals that regulate them. The festival took place last weekend in Nikola-Lenivets art park, some 200km southwest of Moscow. According to curator Anton Kochurin, the performances collectively formed one spectacle uniting its vast territory.

Located in the Kaluga region, about a 4-hour drive from Moscow, Nikola-Lenivets has been hosting Archstoyanie festival since 2006, creating a unique cultural space in the Russian countryside. Over the years, more than 100 art objects have been installed around the park’s expansive territory.

The centerpiece of Archstoyanie 2018, Brodsky’s “Villa PO-2,” merged post-Soviet nostalgia and the classicist aesthetics of Palladian architecture. The two-storey house is built of PO-2 concrete fences – one of the most ubiquitous construction elements in Russia. The old fences used in the structure, some of them crumbling, were collected in the surrounding area.

One of the co-founders of the “paper architecture” movement in the early 1980s, Brodsky masterfully plays with memories, ruins, and architectural fantasies. His built works have a certain poetic quality and are primarily viewed as art pieces.

“What we see here is architecture, but it is architecture created by a great artist,” Archstoyanie founder Nikolay Polissky said at the opening of Villa PO-2.

Brodsky is also the author of Archostoyanie’s most recognizable landmark, the 2009 wooden rotunda that dominates the vast meadow. Constructed from dozens of old doors salvaged from local villages, the rotunda has a fireplace and a rooftop offering one of the best views over Nikola-Lenivets.

 

Delicate Matter

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

The site-specific performance “Delicate Matter” by Poema Theatre utilized Villa PO-2 as a stage. Focusing on the body, its presence in space, and its psychophysical transformations, the performers interacted with the building and one another through motion and sound, with beepers attached to their costumes transmitting their heartbeats.

 

The Funeral of the Fly

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

Reflecting on rituals surrounding death and Slavic mythology, this 11-hour performance by Masha Nechayeva and Alexey Kokhanov invited visitors to take part in the funeral and wake of a two-meter-long fly.

 

Virtual Russian Pavilion

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Photo: Maxim Grachev

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Photo: Maxim Grachev

First presented during the Venice Biennale in May, the Virtual Russian Pavilion was a platform for exhibitions taking place via the mediums of virtual and augmented reality. Wearing VR glasses, one could enter the space of a 3D model of Alexei Shchusev’s Russian Pavilion, to find it eerily empty. Responding to the theme of the 2018 Biennale of Architecture “free space,” the group 🦁🦄(lion & unicorn) – mostly consisting of Strelka alumni – designed their project as “a critical manifesto for a free, independent, and open Russian Pavilion”.

 

Sardonia Herba. Spellbound by Laughter in the Forest

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

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Photo: Julia Abzaltdinova

The performance by Yury Kvyatkovsky, Mikhail Dyagterev, and Maria Zdrok took place in the forest and explored laughter as a sacred rite. Referring to “sardonic” laughter, it synthesized different cultures into one performance, offering different takes on laughter.

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