Aesthetic Upgrading of Urban Environments: The Case of Urban Sculptures in the Post-Soviet Societies

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ekaterina LYTKINA, National Research University Higher School of Economics Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Russia
After the decade of the Soviet Union, a search for a new urban space filling began. After the “cartoon-like aesthetics” of Tseretelly, which were widespread in Moscow (Grant 2001), a boom of urban sculpture began on the post-Soviet space. These sculptures were initiated at different levels (local authorities, private firms and companies, local social movements) and were mostly used not to commemorate any historic events (such as wars, revolutions, liberation of the peoples, etc.) or real people (politicians, artists, writers, saints, and so on), but to different performative events, mythic characters and symbols connected with local places, fairy-tale characters, etc. Thus, they can be called as “non-commemorative” monuments. I hypothesize that, contrary to "traditional" monuments, such urban sculpture is aimed at creation of different interactions with audience (Jackson and Herranz 2002, 18) than worship. I will analyze the cases in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Providing a theoretical framework and a typology of such monuments (taking into account the objects depicted, the kind of aesthetics involved, as well as the actors involved in the process of their creation), I will dwell on how these new monuments are perceived by the audience, how they change the urban environment, what kinds of interactions and rituals they create. Such methods as analysis of self-made photos by the audience, ethnography observations of a number of select cases, discourse analysis (Keller 2005) of mass media, social networks, online travel guides created by users, and the collectively developed online sources will be applied. Of special interest will be to compare these kinds of urban monuments to Western European traditions.