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Retroactive Ruins of Russian Colonialism

a guided tour, together with Medina Bazargali, 2021

image courtesy Medina Bazargali

The project takes the shape of a guided tour around the VDNKH open-air museum in Moscow. It explores monuments of Soviet Russian colonial pasts and neo-colonial Russian presents that are materialized in the architecture and infrastructure of the exhibition site. The walk is centred around imperialism as a model of policymaking and narrative production central to Soviet rule, despite its anti-imperialist rhetoric. It comprises the history of the VDNKH Museum weaved together with personal experiences of two guides.

The walk comprises five stops to tell five stories about Soviet imperialism. The first analyses the sculptural decoration of the Central Pavilion to illustrate that art production was a tool of Soviet imperial policymaking. The following engages with the Kazakhstan Pavilion and addresses myth creation, othering and racialization of people living in the USSR. The next one approaches the Slovo Pavilion to talk about language politics and Russian language supremacy over other spoken languages in Soviet and former Soviet spaces. The fourth examines the Cosmos Pavilion and discusses Soviet expansionism on land and in outer space. Finally, the last story shared near the Neft Pavilion expands on extractivism as a tool for plunder and appropriation.

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