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A New Angle on Russian Architecture
9th Dec 20 1800 (Via Zoom)

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ONLINE TALKS PROGRAMME FOR OCTOBER, NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2020

We are delighted to present the following talks in October, November and December by way of the Zoom video-conferencing facility. We are inviting members, their guests and non-members to book for these Zoom talks in the same way they book physical talks. Those who book will receive an email from our Hon Secretary, Henry Pares, with a link to the Zoom events, one or two days before the talks, inviting them to take part by clicking on the link.  The talks costs £5 per household booking. If you would like to use a credit from a cancelled talk from the previous session please contact our membership secretary, Ute Lynch. We will still need advance notification/booking that you would like to attend as we will need to send you an on line invitations in advance of the talks.

The timing and format will be similar to our physical talks; the speaker will address the Society for around 45 minutes, and this will be followed by a half-hour question and answer session.  When participants join, we request that they mute their microphones for the whole talk.  During the question and answer session, anyone wishing to ask a question, should click on the ‘Raise hand’ icon that will be visible on the screen and wait to be invited by the chairman to speak.  They would at that point, unmute their microphone. 

The talks usually start at 19:00 (but participants are asked to click on the Zoom from 30 minutes beforehand). However, the first October talk on Thursday October 15 will instead start at 1800 as will the fourth talk on November 26 and the talk on December 9. Participants can click on zoom from 1730.

Thursday October 15 – Sarah Lain – Making Peace in Eastern Ukraine (note different start time of 1800)

After six years of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, there has been little progress on political agreement towards sustainable conflict settlement. Although President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken an approach unlike his predecessor’s, the Minsk process still faces challenges. In her talk, Sarah Lain offers an update on the situation in eastern Ukraine and developments in the conflict resolution process. She assesses tactics used by both Ukraine and Russia in terms of conflict settlement and provides a sense of what could be done to stabilise the situation beyond the Minsk Agreements and process.

Sarah Lain is a Kyiv-based research adviser with a Swiss conflict-mediation organisation. An alumna of the University of Cambridge, she previously worked as a Russia and Eurasia research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), where she continues to be an associate fellow.

Thursday October 29 @ 1900 – Dr Robert Henderson – Lenin, London, and the Russian Revolution. 

While history is almost never the result of individual actions, there are certain individuals who have had an outsized impact on events, and who it is crucial to understand if we are to make sense of our world. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is one of those individuals. Robert Henderson has meticulously researched Lenin’s period in London and how it shaped his world view, not least through his interactions with other exiled revolutionaries with a much smaller historical footprint. His talk will explore how this time impacted the young revolutionary who would go on to lead the world’s first Communist state.

Dr Robert Henderson is an honorary research fellow in the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) School of History. An alumnus of the University of Glasgow and QMUL who previously served as the British Library’s Russian curator, he is the author, most recently, of The Spark That Lit Revolution: Lenin in London and the politics that changed the world (2020).

Thursday November 12 @ 1900 – Petr SafronovEducation after the Soviet Collapse: Is It Really Post-Ideological ? 

 In the Soviet Union Communism was not simply a political and economic platform, it was an all-encompassing set of normative and ideological values. Education played a crucial role in the Soviet system by embedding these values in the young. The discrediting of Communism, the Soviet collapse and the transition to the market left an ideological void in education policy, one that the Kremlin has attempted to fill over the last decades. In this lecture, Petr Safronov will analyse the impact of the transition to capitalism on the educational system as a whole and show how ‘ideological’ education has changed in post-Soviet Russia.

Petr Safronov is one of Russia’s foremost experts on the history and practice of educational policy. He studied philosophy at the Moscow State University, where he later lectured before rising to become Dean of the Philosophy and Social Department at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. From 2014 to 2018 he headed the Masters programme on Evidence-Based Educational Policy at Moscow’s prestigious Higher School of Economics. In addition to educating a new generation of scholars, Safronov was responsible for initiating dialogue with the various stakeholders in Russian education and formulating new policy solutions to the country’s educational challenges. 

Thursday November 26 @ 1800 – Maxim Samorukov – Russia in the Balkans: A Paper Tiger ?

Today, as in the past, international observers view the Balkans as the target of Russian influence efforts. In his talk, Maxim Samorukov, an expert on Russia’s role in Central and Eastern Europe, explores Russia’s aims in this region, the instruments used to expand its influence there and the prospects of its efforts, especially in the areas of energy, domestic politics and conflict resolution. Bridging the past and the present, he considers how history — from the distant past to more recently the post-Cold War competition for influence in the region between Russia and the West — shapes Moscow’s ambivalent relations with Balkan capitals.

Maxim Samorukov is a fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre and deputy editor of its website, Carnegie.ru. A graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Samorukov previously worked at Slon.ru, the independent news website, serving as correspondent, editor and columnist. His articles on Russia’s relations with Central and Eastern Europe have appeared in AxiosBalkan Insight and The Moscow Times, among other news outlets.

Wednesday, 9 December @ 1800  –  Anton Gorlenko and Anastasiia Gerasimova: A New Angle on Russian Architecture

The Russian avant-garde architect and painter, Konstantin Melnikov (1890-1974), deserves to be better known in the UK. His architectural activity belongs to a single decade (1923-1933), and he was one of the leading avant-garde architects in Russia in the 1920s. He was associated with the Constructivists, but neither fully Constructivist nor Functionalist. He was essentially an independent artist, not bound by the rules of a particular style or artistic group.  In the 1930s he refused to conform with Stalinist requirements and – accused of being a formalist –  was banned from practice, spending the next 40 years of his life painting and teaching. Thirteen of his buildings still survive in Moscow.

In his presentation, Anton Gorlenko will provide an overview of Konstantin Melnikov’s life and achievements and his significance as an architect. He will then focus on the forthcoming
restoration of one of Melnikov’s early buildings, the Office of the New Sukharev Market (1925) – a project in which he is personally involved – and outline the official approach to the preservation of other Melnikov heritage sites and of pre/post-World War II Modernist architecture in Moscow in general.

In her presentation, Anastasiia Gerasimova will talk about the exciting new phenomenon of ‘self-initiated’ projects which have developed in Russia in recent years.

The young generation of architects in Russia are keen to express and give effect to their own aesthetic vision and attach great importance to the initiation of architectural projects themselves rather than on behalf of a client. Anastasiia will provide illustrations of what this new architectural development means in practice, in both the urban and suburban context. She will talk about how young practitioners and students are working independently on projects they have initiated and the important  educational role played by the Moscow School of Architecture (MARCH). 

Both these talks will be illustrated and the speakers will be joining us from Moscow.

Anton Gorlenko studied at Moscow State University (where he was awarded an MA in Art History) and at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He has run
an architectural practice in Moscow since 2012 and teaches at the MARCH School in Moscow. He also works as an architectural photographer at Takero Shimazaki Architects (London). He has edited and translated into Russian The Possibility of Absolute ArchitectureLess if Enough by Pier Vittorio Aureli) (2011) and Collage City by Colin Rowe with Fred Koetter (1978).

Anastasiia Gerasimova is an architect and researcher, and also teaches at MARCH in Moscow.  She is a graduate of The Berlage Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Technology in Delft, where she initiated her ongoing research into the culture and aesthetics of the banya, the traditional Russian steam bath. As a practising architect she has had experience in the multi-disciplinary offices of Studio Makkink and Bey in Rotterdam, and has collaborated with a number of architectural offices in Europe and Russia.

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