Leonid Brezhnev’s Unused Villa
Soviet Brutalist architecture is beautiful and strange, much of it like some odd abandoned spaceship, long-forgotten Hollywood Sci-Fi set from the 60s, or perhaps the fevered product of a very rigorously-minded architect on a great deal of hallucinogenic drugs. Frédéric Chaubin, when not editing Citizen K, has been taken with documenting odd buildings for some time, thus it seems natural he’d be drawn to these secular icons while traveling through the former Soviet Union. The images depict an era from 1970-1990 when the ideology of the time manifested itself in concrete and steel – and now, in most cases, it rots in its place, or stands alone in the landscape like a peculiar, somehow flamboyant fragment of a complicated, uncomfortable past. Chaubin’s CCCP (or “Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed”) is almost, ALMOST, dispassionate in its coverage of this strange moment in this region’s sociopolitical (topographical?) history. The buildings seem either openly unused or somehow inherently unusable in spite of the determinedly practical features, disagreeing so fiercely with both their natural surroundings and all preceding (and subsequent) regional architectural conventions. Maybe Leonid Breznhnev’s ghost is pissed he never got to use that strange UFO of a villa.