Roundtable session: “Contemporary interpretation practices for contested modernist heritages”

Modernism has proved to be highly versatile. By placing an emphasis on a few shared principles, the role of a few male-dominated movements and a small circle of pioneers, this concept allowed embracing very different historical and ideological settings, as well as to refer to countless architectural and visual expressions. This uniformization of a genuinely diverse movement characterized by numerous vernacular translations has been shaped by the ideological and geopolitical divides of the 20th Century. Modernism has thus been framed through the hegemonic views on modernity held by once-dominant ideologies such as communism or fascism, but also through (post)colonialism and the post-war expansion of modern capitalism. This is reflected in how modernist heritages are perceived and dealt with today, often as part of politics of nationhood, state-building and memory.

This roundtable brings together authors, academics, practitioners, and visual artists involved in interpreting modernism through dealing with ideologies. From constructivism in the double context of the Bolshevik revolution and state-building, through the red metropolises from an East-West perspective or the modernist heritage of the last divided city in Europe still affected by colonization, to the remains of civil and military cold-war nuclear architecture, panellists from Cyprus, Lithuania, Ukraine and the United Kingdom will explore heavily contested modernist heritages. Their respective contributions will aim to demonstrate how their multidisciplinary practices largely exceed the realm of architecture preservation and documentation to challenge contemporary ideological narratives or gendered views and to travel conflicting memories.

Chair: MAXIME FOREST (Sciences Po (OFCE))

Speakers: IEVGENIIA (JENIA) GUBKINA (Researcher, Ukraine), OWEN HATHERLEY (Writer/Journalist, UK), POPI IACOVOU (University of Cyprus).