The Communist years in Central Europe were a dark time. Much of the evidence is gone now, or at least concealed beneath the surface, but the architecture of that period remains a prominent reminder. Modernist sculpture and brutalist architecture combine to offer a stark contrast to the relatively ornate 19th Century buildings that still predominate.
It’s not pretty, but it does have a certain nostalgic charm to those who are old enough to remember the Cold War, conjuring up visions of countless movie scenes and evening news clips. One has to wonder how it is seen by those who had an altogether more intimate relationship with dictatorship.
In the later years of the Cold War the stylized forms of early 20th Century modernism gave way to the more prosaic shapes we see scattered throughout cities around the world today. The ever-greater connections between cultures have served to make the world increasingly uniform, plummeting in a downward spiral toward mind-numbing dullness. But at least it’s shiny….
Angular forms repeated endlessly in glass and concrete are mesmerizing in their own way, lulling those surrounded by them into a stupor of sensory deprivation – given the nature of totalitarian government, perhaps this was not accidental. And yet all the poured concrete in the world cannot fully block out the light.