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“Formations, reformations, deformations” tracing architectural history of the communal room in the works of soviet nonconformist artists: 1975-1991

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2020
Yıldırım, Senem
This thesis traces the evolution of communal room from a collective to private space through practices of an underground art circle that emerged during the second half of the 1970s in Soviet Moscow, namely Soviet Nonconformist artists. The Soviet project of the communal apartment was a revolutionary experiment of collective living. Initiated with the ideal of designing "socialism in one building," it turned into an institution of social control, the base for establishing status-quo and a micro-cosmos where Soviet communal bodies were shaped between the 1920s and late 1950s. Following the transformation of communal apartments into private rooms during Khrushchev's Thaw in the late 1950s, these new private rooms were transformed into zones of freedom by newly flourishing underground culture in major cities of the Soviet Union. Starting from the 1960s, especially Moscow and Leningrad, witnessed private rooms to be appropriated as spaces for the underground activities of various intellectual fields. This thesis aims to decode the dynamics, aesthetics, and architecture of post-thaw Soviet communal rooms in between privacy-collectivity, and officiality-unofficiality by tracing "Moscow Nonconformists" through three generations that were formed, reformed, and deformed between the years 1975-1991. In two parallel analysis, on networks and artworks of Nonconformist artists, it is aimed to trace the architectural history of the communal room both in Moscow and through artists exhibitions in the West as the context, the muse and the object of their artistic genre, while documenting the room's intertwined journey with artists' biographies and networks.