Entry Title: "The Moscow Photographs"
Name: Leslie Hossack , Canada
Category and Expertise: Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional
Entry Description: These images are from a series that examines Joseph Stalin’s architectural legacy from 1922-2012. The impact of his personal taste and political will is evident in Moscow today. Linked to Stalin by era, architect and anecdote, these iconic structures are revealed as they appeared when architects first put their designs on paper. Stalin understood the importance of expressing and wielding power through bricks and mortar. He also understood the significant role that different architectural styles play in reinforcing the values of the state. Thus, the buildings constructed during his era provide us with a historic record written in stone.
Story: LESLIE HOSSACK THE MOSCOW PHOTOGRAPHS
STALIN’S ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY, 1922 - 2012
The Soviet Union was founded in 1922, the same year that Joseph Stalin became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party. He held that position until his death in 1953, and during nearly 30 years of often-brutal rule, he sought power over all aspects of life in the USSR, including architecture and city planning. The impact of his personal taste and political will is still evident in Moscow today, and his architectural legacy continues to grow 90 years later.
Stalin understood the importance of expressing and wielding power through bricks and mortar. He also understood the significant role that different architectural styles play in reinforcing the values of the state. Thus, the buildings constructed during his era provide us with a historic record written in stone. These public structures tend to be of a classical, symmetrical, balanced style, thus projecting order, stability and control.
The 12 structures that make up THE MOSCOW PHOTOGRAPHS are linked to Stalin by era, architect, and anecdote. These landmarks have been reverse engineered to reveal them as they first appeared, when the architects put their designs on paper. Each massive façade has been taken back to the drawing board, leaving little evidence of Russia today. Deconstructing these historic buildings reveals them as they were, minus the chaos and clutter of contemporary urban life.
A whole stable of architects constantly moved in and out of favour with Stalin. One of the most resilient Soviet architects was Dmitry Chechulin, who also served as Moscow’s chief city planner from 1945-1949. Two structures he designed are featured in this collection: the Moscow City Hall, and the Russian White House.
All buildings in this series were constructed, or reconstructed, during one of Stalin’s many Five Year Plans (1928-1955) except for the Russian White House and the Bolshoi Theatre. As noted above, the Russian White House is linked to Stalin through Soviet architect, Dmitry Chechulin.
The Bolshoi Theatre, however, is connected to Stalin through numerous events and anecdotes. In December 1920, the 8th All-Russian Congress of Soviets met in the Bolshoi Theatre. Here, in the unheated and dimly light theatre, Lenin presented his plan for the electrification of Russia. Later, in 1927, Stalin attended a memorial meeting in the Bolshoi Theatre to mark the third anniversary of Lenin’s death. In 1937 and again in 1946, Stalin made significant political speeches here, and in 1946 he famously stormed out of the theatre during the performance of an opera by Dmitry Shostakovich.
After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, there had been talk of tearing down the Bolshoi Theatre because it represented bourgeois excess. Luckily, the theatre survived, but the original imperial insignias were replaced with symbols of Soviet empire building, including flags and laurel leaves. Recently, this process was reversed during a major renovation. The Bolshoi Theatre reopened in 2011 with much of its initial splendor restored.