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PPV #19: Book launch. Tolyattii: Exploring the (After-)Life of a (Post-)Soviet Automobile City


5pm GMT

Book launch: Tolyatti

Please join us at the book launch for Tolyatti (V-A-C/Velvet Cell, 2020) by Guido Sechi and Michele Sera. Organised in collaboration with V-A-C Foundation.

Tolyatti (V–A–C Press, The Velvet Cell, 2020) by Michele Cera and Guido Sechi, is the outcome of a visual/scholarly research project devoted to the public spaces of the former USSR, focusing on the Tolyatti automobile factory.

The automobile district in Tolyatti appeared at the and of the 1960s in the vicinity of the then-under-construction car factory. The designs for the “Auto-grad” combined Soviet concepts of a minutely-planned “city of the future” with self-sustaining super-sized housing estates known as “micro-districts” (mikroraiony), wide boulevards and spaces for collective interaction. On the other hand, Tolyatti is a vivid instance of a contemporary Russian monotown (a city organised around a single industry or factory complex), located on the peripheries of globalisation.

The participants in the presentation discuss the fate of public spaces, post-Soviet cities and their visual representations in the contemporary media; as well as tendencies of urban transformation today.


Guido Sechi, researcher and lecturer at the Department of Human Geography of the University of Latvia. Primary sphere of interests: urban and regional studies of the post-Soviet space.

Michele Cera, photographer, participant in multiple international exhibitions. His main photographic interest is in human settlements and landscape representation and survey.


Daria Bocharnikova is an historian of modern architecture and urban planning. She received her PhD in 2014 from the European University Institute in Florence and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of urban studies and history of state socialism. In 2012 she started teaching at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at St. Petersburg State University and launched the international collaborative project Second World Urbanity together with Steven E. Harris that explores the history of urban planning and lived experience in socialist cities across Eurasia and beyond. In 2016 she moved to Brussels where she began to work at the Centre for Fine Arts BOZAR as institutional advisor and curator of Russian Turn program, while continuing to collaborate with KU Leuven as visiting scholar at the research group Modernity en Society 1800-2000 en Centre for Russian Studies and the Free University of Berlin.

Dace Dzenovska is Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Migration at the University of Oxford. Her research interests pertain to the changing relationships between people, territory, political authority, and capital in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. She is the author of School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism in Latvia (Cornell, 2018) and the Principal Investigator of the ERC project ‘’Emptiness: Living Capitalism and Democracy After Postsocialism’’.

Anna Shevchenko is an architectural researcher and critic who is written for, Afisha Daily and many other publications

Evgenia Gubkina is an architect, historian of architecture, curator of architecture and art projects, educational activities. She is a co-founder of the NGO Urban Forms Center and the avant-garde women's movement “Modernistki”. Since 2012 she has been a consultant at the Ukrainian Constructivism Weeks in Zaporizhzhia. Ievgeniia is the author of “Slavutych Architectural Guide” (2015) and author of the study and co-author of the book “Soviet Modernism.Brutalism. Post-Modernism. Buildings and Structures in Ukraine 1955-1991” (2019). In 2020 she curated multimedia online project "Encyclopedia of Ukrainian Architecture".

Vladimir Kulić is an architectural historian whose work focuses on Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, and the former socialist world. His books and exhibitions include Unfinished Modernisations: Between Pragmatism and Utopia, Modernism In-Between: The Mediatory Architectures of Socialist Yugoslavia, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, and Second World Postmodernisms: Architecture and Society under Late Socialism.

Kirill Glushchenko is an artist and founder of a fictional publishing house called Gluschenkoizdat

Yaroslav Aleshin is a curator of exhibitions and urban integration programs at V–A–C Foundation

Chaired by:

Maria Mileeva, Lecturer in Art History, Courtauld Institute of Art

Michał Murawski, anthropologist of architecture, Lecturer in Critical Area Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

This event is organised by PPV in collaboration with the V-A-C Foundation.


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