• Raising the Curtain. Operatic Modernism and the Soviet Nations
    Oxana Gourinovitch
    Spector Books, 2024
    Oxana Gourinovitch

Auditorium of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius (architect Nijolė Bučiūtė, artist Jurijus Markejevas), ca. 1976. Courtesy Archive Nijolė Bučiūtė, Vilnius. Photo: unknown (presumably Antanas Grinčelaitis)

The book addresses the seminal involvement of Soviet modernist architecture into the processes of nation building within the Soviet Union—a topic which for too long remained an elephant in the room in the discourse of architectural history of the period. Resorting to knowledge from other historical disciplines, the book observes how the negotiation of national distinctiveness helped the architecture in non-Russian republics to become a subversive tool of resistance to the Soviet ideological imperatives and Russo-centric cultural domination. However, the very same affiliation with national projects often turned the architecture into a stage for assertions of its own national superiority, and made professional fields prone to a social injustice and discrimination of persons with the wrong ethnical or cultural background. The book analyses the continuity of architecture’s involvement into the processes of nation building throughout the short twentieth century, and the “durabilities” of its agency in the post-Soviet realm.

Oxana Gourinovitch is an architectural historian, architect, and curator; currently a senior researcher at the RWTH Aachen University. Trained as an architect at the University of Arts in Berlin, she worked in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Berlin; often in cooperation with artists, she contributed to exhibits, among others, at the Rotterdam Biennale and Witte de Witt Museum, Schering Stiftung in Berlin, Zachęta National Art Gallery in Warsaw, Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, and at biennials in Shanghai and Karachi. She conducted her doctoral research as a fellow of the Graduiertenkolleg “Identity and Heritage” at the TU Berlin and the Bauhaus-University in Weimar. She is member of ICOMOS Belarus and the head of its working group on the heritage of the twentieth century. The forthcoming National Theatre is her first book.