Join the Instagram account fighting to save Ukraine’s modernist heritage

Join the Instagram account fighting to save Ukraine’s modernist heritage

18 August 2021

Instagram account @ukrainianmodernism is fighting to preserve the country’s modernist heritage through stunning photographs, fascinating historical posts, and activist campaigns.

Founded by photographer Dmytro Solovyov, the account combines recent and archive images of the country’s modernist buildings, often juxtaposing them in before/after collages. Solovyov hopes not just to celebrate this architecture, but to raise awareness of the neglect many such buildings suffer.

“When I moved from Minsk to Kyiv, I was heartbroken to see multiple architectural gems demolished or reconstructed beyond recognition,” Solovyov told The Calvert Journal. “I realised that the modernist heritage is vulnerable, and we will lose it all if no action is taken.”

Modernism boomed in Ukraine between the 1960s and the 90s, when daring, concrete-heavy structures and colourful mosaics blossomed across the country. Yet after the fall of the USSR, a lack of public funds, corruption, and legal irregularities left many of these buildings under threat of demolition by private developers,

One of the first buildings featured on the platform was Kyiv’s “Flying Saucer”: the UFO-shaped structure that served as the conference hall of the Ukrainian Institute of Information. In 2018, it was almost destroyed when a new shopping mall was built on-site. Ultimately, activists managed to preserve the structure within the new, renovated building.

Today, the platform is equal parts archive and activist campaign. “Initially, I wanted to show the world, especially Ukrainians, the beauty of our modernist heritage. Over three years the project has evolved into something much bigger. Now, it’s a platform for raising awareness of the value of modernist architecture, spreading the word about the everyday negligence of our cityscape or even preventing it, and bringing together a mindful community.”

Solovyov recently spotlighted the ongoing struggle to save Kyiv’s Flowers of Ukraine building: a flower shop and botanical research centre that was almost crushed by developers in July 2020. “I was livestreaming the [attempted demolition], urging my followers to come and help the protesters [fighting to save the building],” says Solovyov. “In the end we dismantled the fence, blocked the work of demolition vehicles, and occupied the territory, organising shifts to monitor the building.” His followers worked alongside other activists, who occupied the building until officials admitted that developers did not have permission to take it down — effectively saving it from destruction. “I just hope that by the time my and my fellow activists’ efforts result in common appreciation of modernist heritage, we will still have some of it intact,” says Solovyov.

You can support the project here.

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