top of page

Stories for the Hydraulic Seas on the Volga

collection of auto-theory fiction stories, 2020-2021

The project revisits three water reservoirs in Russia—colloquially known as “seas”—to interrogate the developmental narrative of Soviet modernity by producing stories beyond this framework. Part of The Great Volga (1930s-1970s), a large-scale terraforming effort to transform the flow of the Volga River into an industrial infrastructure, these reservoirs were constructed on the ruins of the submerged towns: Korcheva, Kalyazin and Mologa. While this story remains omitted in the dominant historical narrative, water oscillations disclose lingering residues and illuminate the historiographical voids. By engaging with the objects found during field trips to these towns—a sculpture, a photograph, and an architectural model—this project offers a way to reconsider the histories of the submerged places that persist underwater, in-between spaces, in memory, and through material artefacts.

Each story combines three narratives: a situated account of travelling to a hydraulic sea, a broader history of the place, and a theoretical framework that discusses a specific aspect of the Soviet modernity project. The first narrative revolves around field notes from the trips to the destroyed towns. The second comprises archival and historical materials. The third articulates theoretical tools that position Soviet modernity in relation to other modernity projects. By weaving together three accounts, the project seeks to disrupt the linearity of the dominant historical narrative and examine how the presence of underwater towns is haunted by their violent pasts.

exhibition and presentation: The London Conference in Critical Thought, School of Law, Birbeck College, University of London, July 2022; After Progress, digital exhibition, curated by Martin Savransky and Craig Lundy, February 2022-ongoing


bottom of page