Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi


The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi

 

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Birgitte Beck Pristed (Aarhus University, Denmark)

New Russian 'Roadside Architecture': Monumental Culture of the Periphery

This paper discusses a recent growth in new memorials in Russian public space that "re-sculptures" the empty places left over from demolished Soviet monuments, but at the same time builds on the former Socialist tradition of monumental art and culture. New memorials for example to popular historical persons or poets display a tendency to bring the "Great" down from the pedestal and present the figure in natural size, more suitable for cellphone photographing. Other examples of post-Soviet sculpture size up objects and consumer goods to monuments in the manner of pop-art. The analysis will focus on the case of new local landmarks in Magadan that have been projected as part of the local government's PR-strategy which aims at "re-branding" the abandoned port town of the Kolyma region that struggles with a declining population and an ailing industry. Having different concerns than the creative class of the cultural capitals, the citizens, who might be considered "double survivors" of both the Soviet and Capitalist system, generally appear approving of the governmental campaign to strengthen local identity and attract tourists to a place that outsiders primarily associate with Stalin's labor camps. The memorials bear some resemblance to popular American roadside architecture of the 1950s, characterized by striking, commercial buildings and landmarks shaped for example as local animals (in the case of Magadan, a huge Mammoth memorial from 2013) or food that is sold there to draw attention from consumers (in the case of Magadan, a sketched-out, though not yet realized memorial to the red caviar). The paper examines the challenging processes of reshaping place and history in the highly ambivalent field between memory and amnesia, between Capitalist and Socialist symbolic values, and between the different optics of the near and the far.