Take me to church: documenting Ukraine’s DIY kiosk-altars and pop-up chapels

14 September 2020

Churches in old wagons or upcycled garages? Domes rising in between tower blocks? Lavish cathedrals next to shopping centres? Orthodox Chic explores the development of religious architecture in Ukraine since the fall of communism.

Authored by Oleksandr Burlaka, Alex Bykov, and the artist Sasha Kurmaz, the book is a sequel to 2019’s Balcony Chic, a photobook of Ukraine’s informal status symbol balconies.

Religious architecture and church-building experts have been absent for almost a century in Ukraine, with religion officially repressed by the Soviet government. Instead, cathedral architects like Alexey Schusev migrated from designing churches to creating monuments such as Lenin’s mausoleum.

Yet, despite increased post-Soviet religious freedom, religious architectural experts haven’t reappeared in Ukraine, the authors of Orthodox Chic argue. Instead, wealthy individuals are building their own gilded status-churches, often used as a backdrop for wedding photos, while poorer communities have been forced to make do with makeshift places of worship, including wagons, shacks, kiosks, village council buildings, or old garages, which often have a cross or a cupola fixed upon them.

“The history of Orthodox Christian architecture, greatly altered by the Soviet period, gets a second chance here [in Ukraine],” the authors write.

Get your copy of the photo book here.

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