Exhibition "Architecture of Late Socialism in Ukraine and Czechia"

The works of Pavlo Dorohoi from Ukrainian Kharkiv and David Konečný from Czech Brno explore, document and draw parallels between the postmodernist architectural heritage of late Soviet Ukraine and late socialist Czechoslovakia of the 1980s and 1990s. Given the outrageous and unjustified aggression of Russia towards Ukraine today, the preservation of architectural heritage has become an increasingly significant issue not only for Ukrainians but for the entire world.

Working in collaboration with architects Ievgeniia Gubkina and Tomáš Růžička, the photographers selected the most striking examples of late socialist architecture in Ukraine and Brno to be photographed. Through their interpretations of this cultural heritage, visitors are encouraged to discuss and exchange ideas and experiences.

The exhibition reached out to a wide audience in Brno, showcasing the tangible cultural heritage of Ukraine at the end of the 20th century and drawing attention to its value as part of the broader phenomenon of European postmodernism. The event promotes public discussion and intercultural dialogue on the preservation of socialist architectural heritage, memories, experiences of restoration and revitalization of architectural objects in new socio-economic conditions.

Work on the exhibition was started even before the full-scale war in Ukraine. Accordingly, the project acquired a new meaning, because this architecture, no less than medieval churches, baroque and classicist buildings, and modernist residential complexes, is under threat of destruction due to the Russian invasion and relentless shelling of Ukrainian cities. Many of the objects photographed by Pavlo Dorohoi are/were located in the warzone, under occupation or partially destroyed. While Pavlo became the “eyes” of documenting the war staying in his native Kharkiv. The collaboration and intercultural dialogue that took place among Ukrainian and Czech photographers, architects, and cultural managers during the exhibition’s preparation are a vital aspect of the contemporary partnership between Ukraine and the Czech Republic. This partnership is built upon a profound mutual respect for history, culture, and heritage. Despite the ongoing war, the decision to continue with the exhibition’s preparation sends a powerful message. It nis not only about the already historical architecture of the period of the fall of the Soviet empire and the entire Eastern Bloc but also about today’s decolonization of Eastern Europe and the assertion of young, independent states’ subjectivity.

We hope to bring this exhibition to Ukrainian cities in the near future, introducing Czech architecture in the same way we have shared Ukrainian architecture with Czechs and guests of Brno.

The exhibition opened on May 21, 2022, at the Ukrainian Center in Brno and was later displayed at the Faculty of Architecture of the Brno University of Technology in October 2022.

Organizers: Pavlo Dorohoi with the financial support of House of Europe in partnership with Urban Forms Center, Větrné mlýny, Ukrainská iniciativa Jižní Moravy z.s. and the Faculty of Architecture of the Brno University of Technology.

Photos by Kateřina Rusňáková and Volodymyr Paliy