There are not many things as constantly in flux as the contemporary urban environment, with buildings and monuments constantly being built and demolished; signs, billboards, scaffolding, posters, graffiti coming and going with new layers of plaster and paint. This change is the key interest of the MNPL collective (an acronym for “monopoly”) established in Odessa in 2010.
“We are interested in the way people express themselves through architecture in an environment which lacks comprehensive rules and regulating bodies”, the MNPL members explain. “Any city in Ukraine is full of wild, architectural objects. In the capital, it appears on a grand scale and with great diversity. We don’t see this as being negative and are not necessarily trying to criticise it, we’re just keeping track of the process”.
Kiev makes a great case for their research, with its uncontrollably vast amount of billboards, advertising and DIY architectural improvements. “The themes running throughout the photos are cultural heritage and the attitudes surrounding it, and objects and shapes which carry metaphors or appear unintentionally”, the MNPL collective explains.
Forms and textures, however surreal they might be, are an embodiment of someone’s idea of beauty and luxury — like the mirrored Greek columns — or just as a strange juxtaposition, like the Matrix-themed merry-go-round at the bottom of the Friendship of Nations arch, a renowned Kiev monument.