Frederic Chaubin, chisinau cirkas, moldavija, 2009
Vartai gallery opens an exhibition of three photographers - Antanas Sutkus, Romualdas Rakauskas and Frédéric Chaubin - titled Soviet Architecture Photography Albums. The exhibition introduces several viewpoints that are different in terms of time, geography and history, and that are revealed in the photography albums dedicated to the architecture of the Soviet era. The first viewpoint is contemporary (external); it records the epoch that is now gradually falling into oblivion and searches the heritage of that epoch for the ultimate creativity which has an ability to exist in a totalitarian system. Meanwhile the other viewpoint (internal) belonged to that specific period of time; it was controlled by the ideology, but remained creative.
The first viewpoint is represented by the French photographer Frédéric Chaubin who has been actively exploring the architecture of the Soviet Union of the 1970s and 1980s for almost a decade now. He is especially interested in inventive personal works where the forms of expression are juxtaposed with the dogmas of strictly economical functionalist social modernism. It is an inquisitive and delightful glance that is discovering and recording exotic, incomprehensible and almost visionary structures. His pictures were reproduced in the album Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed which was published by Taschen in 2011, introduced in many countries and widely acclaimed.
The second viewpoint is represented by the Lithuanian classical photographers Antanas Sutkus and Romualdas Rakauskas. Many of their pictures were included in the official photo albums published since the 1960s to represent the lifestyle in the then Lithuania, including Lietuva iandien (Lithuania Today, 1964), Tarybu; Lietuva (Soviet Lithuania, 1976) and a series of photo albums dedicated to individual cities of Lithuania published in the early 1980s. Also, Romualdas Rakauskas' photography was used for the only album dedicated to modern architecture Naujoji Lietuvos architektu-ra (The Modern Architecture of Lithuania, 1982, ed. Jonas Minkevičius) while Antanas Sutkus photo albums Lazdynai (1975) and Lietuva i paukčio skrydio (Lithuania in Bird's-eye Photography, 1981) contain plenty of fragments and views of modernist environment.
Photo albums representing the ideals of the Soviet lifestyle put a strong emphasis on modern architecture and environment, which was meant to shape the new communist man through functionality and hygiene. Ideologically limited viewpoint could not focus solely on exclusive architectural solutions, but also had to highlight the advantages of the new environment and convey the beauty of the economic comfort offered by the standardised architecture. However, even when making commissioned pictures the authors managed to combine the requirements of state officials with personal artistic approaches.
The exhibition will include both pictures reproduced in the photo albums and unpublished shots.
Curated by: Egle. Juocevičiūtė, Danute. Gambickaite., Jolanta Marciauskyte.-Juraiene..
January 31, 4.30 p. m.: excursion/conversation with Frédéric Chaubin.