Solo exhibition by Vasilena Gankovska
June 3 – July 1, 2022
Scope BLN, Berlin
Monumental, imposing, modernist. The buildings of the cinemas from the socialist era in Eastern Europe manifest the utopias and ambitions of the societies of that time. Just as Soviet films were widely distributed outside the Soviet Union, the particular architecture of cinemas was exported as well. It had no economic or commercial goals but aimed to disseminate propaganda, aesthetics and ideology.
PROEKT KINO KOSMOS by Vasilena Gankovska presents paintings, photography, ceramics, and objects that are inspired by two themes combined in a multilayered semantic, historical, architectural, and ideological construct.
The first topic is the so-called phenomenon of ‘export architecture’. The progressive Soviet architecture between 1960s and 1980s was deliberately spread in the countries of the socialist bloc and thus became an ideological and propaganda tool.
The second topic is contained in the word “KOSMOS” (Cosmos). In the second half of the 20th century, Cosmos was the common name for cinemas from Vladivostok to Berlin, from Riga to Plovdiv. The Space Race during the Cold War was perhaps the fastest-growing process in which the West and the East were competing in space. In the case of the cinemas, late modernism or brutalist architecture stood in line with futuristic visions of space and its transformation into a field of ideological supremacy.
PROEKT KINO KOSMOS interprets the cultural heritage of two exemplary cinemas called “Kosmos” – one in Berlin and the other in Plovdiv. In the exhibition, these two cinemas enter into a visual dialogue with each other. The aim of the artist is to study the multifaceted processes such as historical change, economics, and commercialization that occurred after the collapse of the socialist system and impacted the fate of these two buildings.
While the building in Berlin was completely renovated and expanded a few years ago, the Plovdiv cinema is still awaiting a major overhaul. What unites both buildings is their status as exemplary objects from the past, as symbols that have reached a cult status for researchers of brutalism (Plovdiv) or admirers of late modernism (Berlin). At the same time, they no longer perform their original function as a public venue for the presentation of films. Vasilena Gankovska uses her documentary photographs to develop her own artistic “hypothesis” about the life of historical culture that has crossed the borders of a new historical and economic stage.
The exciting moment lies in the transfer of these architectural models, as well as in the translation of visual information between different media (photography, drawing, painting and the exhibition display, which includes special lighting and typography).
The transmission can also mix, assemble, and deconstruct elements of both buildings. Ultimately, this process is also a process of reflection regarding the fate of cinemas and how their (previous) role has changed from a center of cultural experience to a place of entertainment, to the point of its complete closure.
In this sense, PROEKT KINO KOSMOS is also about the time of political change, the commercialization of public spaces, and the way in which the architectural and cultural heritage is treated 30 years since the beginning of these processes.
The project is supported by