Christopher Beanland, journalist and author based in London talks to RETROGRAD about his love for brutalism, Birmingham and his new book, Concrete Concept: Brutalist buildings around the world.
Sergei Eisenstein is perhaps the most famous Soviet film-maker, and is amongst the figures who would most define Twentieth-Century cinematic theory and practice. In the mid 20’s, he directed the cinematic masterpieces STRIKE, BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN and OCTOBER. While Soviet policies towards art and international exchange became more conservative in the late 1920’s, Eisenstein travelled abroad, spending time in Europe, the United States and Mexico.
Noisy, flashing, funky arcade machines to entertain workers? Surely not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the USSR during the Cold War era…
Masha Poluektova is a contemporary artist based in Moscow. Her work has been featured in the city’s Biennial of Contemporary Art (2015), and its Biennial for Young Artists (2014), and this week will be exhibiting in London as part of a group show entitled ‘Between the Lines’. Curated by Stanislav Shuripa, the show is a collaboration between London’s Goldsmiths College and Moscow’s Institute for Contemporary Art and was preceded by a summer school in Russia last year. RETROGRAD talks to her about her work and contemporary art in Russia.
In 1982, when she was 21, my mum joined an exchange programme to travel through the Soviet Union. The group of 30 young Germans produced a travel diary that she recently dug out for me from the attic. In the introduction it reads: “If somebody reads this in a few years, they should consider the following words by Theodor Fontane: ‘He who wants to travel has to bring with him love for the country and the people, at the least he shouldn’t bring prejudice. He needs to have the good intention to find the good instead of killing it through critical comparisons.'”
Street art scenes from Russia’s northern capital Saint Petersburg – a photo essay by Philipp Brugner.
RETROGRAD is looking for information on a seemingly forgotten concrete superstructure on Kostava Street, Tbilisi. All we know so far is that it currently hosts a casino (“Europe”) and – rumour has it – that “they sell good frozen pelmeni there”. Nothing definite is known about its past – a google search for “brutalism” and “Tbilisi” reveals little more than a photograph with the caption “example of brutalism in Tbilisi, Georgia (sorry i dont know name of building)”.
Wondering around Cuban cities, you occasionally come across murals in bright and warm Caribbean colours. Their ideological messages are reminders of Cuba’s revolutionary past and unique position in the present-day world. But what do they evoke – a past long gone or a possible socialist future?