and Ilya Utkin
"Historically, architecture in Soviet Union has served as a useful art - not just in the sense of providing shelter and work space but as a visual form of propaganda. In 1957 Khrushchev declared Socialist Realist architecture the over-decorated style and abolished the Academy of Architecture. The doctrine was of unadorned utilitarism. Modern technology, especially prefabrication, was exploited to produce the urgently needed mass housing, and aesthetic discourse of any kind was considered unnecessary and immoral.
This scenario confronted Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin and their classmates at the Moscow Institute of Architecture in the mid-seventies. At the time of their graduation international competitions sponsored by foreign magazines and corporations provided a creative outlet for those who decided to carry on n architecture. Competitions tended to be theoretical rather than practical and proved particularly appealing to young designers chained to the quotidian tedium of official architectural practice. As Brodsky and Utkin and a dozen or so other friends began to produce such projects in evenings and weekends over the next few years, the group assumed the title of paper architects. They were creating visionary schemes in response to a bleak professional scene in which only artless and ill-conceived buildings, diluted through numerous burocratic strata and constructed out of poor materials by unskilled laborers, were being erected - if anything. As such their work constitutes a graphic form of architectural criticism, an escape into the realm of imagination that ended as a visual commentary on what was wrong with social and physical reality and how its ills might be remedied" (Extracts from: Man in the Metropolis: The Graphic Projections of Brodsky & Utkin by Lois Nesbitt, 1991).
above the precipice
in the high mountains
A chapel with walls,
glass roof and glass floorm
standing over the fathomless
between two abysses
upper and lower.
Bridge, etching, 1987/90. Japan Architect Competition, Tokio, Japan 1987
Nobody knows when, why and by whom this tower on the sea shore was built;
nobody knows when and why it fell down.
Buti t fell and broke into thousands of glass fragments,
and since that time it lies like a transparent mountain range, like a dead city,
like a skeleton of a gigantic animal that became extinct in prehistoric times.
Its foundation reposes on the shore,
its peak is lost in the depths of the continent.
The people living around it build new cities and new towers,
one higher than the other, and no one notices this Tower,
and no one remembers the time when its peak was lost in the clouds...
And so it will lie shining in the sun,
accessible to one's understanding only from a great height...
Glass Tower, etching, 1984/90. Japan Architect Competition, Tokio, Japan, 1984
Crystal Palace is a beautiful but unrealizable dream,
a Mirage which calls you always,
seen at the edge of the visible.
But as each dream is seen in close examination,
it will prove the other thing that it seemed from afar.
It stands on the edge of the city.
A person who wants to visiti t will make a long way through the town borderland,
blocks of slums and dumps
but coming at last to the Palace find neither roof nor walls,
only the huge glass plates, stuck into the huge box of sand.
A Mirage remains simply a Mirage, though it can be touched.
Passing from one glass chink to another, a visitor will walk through the Palace...
and find himself at the border of a small square,
where the Landscape commences... Did he learn the very essence of the Cristal Palace?
Will he have a desire to visiti t once more?
Crystal Palace, etching, 1982/1990. Japan Architect Competition, Tokio, Japan, 1982
Alexander Brodsky, lives and works in Moscow, the most beloved and internationally recognized architect of today's Russia, was in the eighties one of the major exponents of the Paper Architecture movement. During the 1990s Brodsky shifted towards contemporary art, moving to New York in 1996. In 1999 he returned to Russia to finally practice freely as an architect beginning to realize a dream he long thought impossible: to build. Brodsky's architecture remains restrained, blurring the line between art and architecture. He combines local and reused materials to produce buildings that are both traditional and modern, his sombre structures act as a reminder of the fragility of the city.
Brodsky's work is present in numerous public and private collections, including: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois; Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California; Withney Museum of American Art, New York.
Utkin Ilya Valentinovich was born in Moscow in 1955. In 1978 has finished the Moscow architectural institute in group of professor Boris Barhina. Worked in cooperation with Alexander Brodsky (1978-1993). In
1994 he headed Utkin's Studio (Architecture and design). I.V.Utkin was also
appointed professor of the International academy of architecture (Moscow).
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