Episode 06. Where The Rivers Ran Red

In this episode we speak with curator and gallerist Anya Stonelake. The Russian city of Norilsk is our protagonist. The city’s collective memory includes traumas that are inscribed into its ruins: composed of massive and expansive housing blocks, seemingly infinite mines, quarries, and factories, and a permafrost extending towards the horizon in every direction.

A photograph of Norilsk by Grigoriy Yaroshenko.

A photograph of Norilsk by Grigoriy Yaroshenko.

Episode 05. Off Location: Drawings for the US Embassy Moscow

To mark the opening of the new US Embassy in London at Nine Elms, Pushkin House and the Drawing Matter Trust present a pop-up exhibition of the recently acquired drawings by architectural illustrator Carlos Diniz of the US Embassy Moscow. In this episode we talk to Niall Hobhouse, from the Drawing Matter Trust, Economist writer, Tim Abrahams, and Director of Pushkin House, Clem Cecil about architectural visualisation, realities on the ground, and a few recent Presidential tweets.

Carlos Diniz (1928–2001), Embassy of the United States, Moscow, View A c. 1976. Pen and ink on vellum.

Carlos Diniz (1928–2001), Embassy of the United States, Moscow, View A c. 1976. Pen and ink on vellum.

Niall Hobhouse, The Drawing Matter Trust.

Niall Hobhouse, The Drawing Matter Trust.

Tim Abrahams.

Tim Abrahams.

Director of Pushkin House, Clem Cecil.

Director of Pushkin House, Clem Cecil.

Episode 04. Restoring the Past: a Conversation with Architect Alexei Ginzburg

In this episode we talk to architect Alexei Ginzburg about Narkomfin, the building designed by his grandfather, one of the leading members of the Constructivist group, Moisei Ginzburg. Alexei Ginzburg and his wife Natasha have recently published in facsimile, English translations of Moisei's books about architecture: 'Rhythm in Architecture' and 'Dwelling'. In addition, Alexei Ginzburg is the chief restoration architect of Narkomfin, presently underway after many years of neglect. Pushkin House Director, Clem Cecil, interviewed Alexei Ginzburg about the significance of Narkomfin, the theory and ideas of the Constructivists, and the experience of restoring his own grandfather's building. 

Alexei Ginsburg

Alexei Ginsburg

The rear facade of Narkomfin in Moscow, shortly after completion in 1930. 

The rear facade of Narkomfin in Moscow, shortly after completion in 1930. 

Narkomfin was constructed between 1928 and 1930 as semi-communal housing for the workers of the Soviet Union’s first Commissariat of Finances. It was commissioned by the then Commissar of Finance, Nikolai Milyutin, a trained town planner with radical and experimental ideas. To realise his ideas he turned to leading Constructivist architect Moisei Ginzburg, who worked with young architect Ignatii Milinis and structural engineer Sergei Prokhorov. In line with Le Corbusier's five rules, the building stands on pilotis, has a free internal plan unconstrained by load-bearing walls, a free facade that does not necessarily reflect the internal functions or layout, ribbon windows stretching across the entire facade, and a flat roof terrace that provides a garden for the building’s inhabitants. Concrete bricks were made on site and traditional materials were used in experimental ways. Milyutin moved into a penthouse on the roof. 

The building fell out of favour in 1934 and fell into disrepair although it was always lived in. It came into new ownership in the summer of 2016. Now, Alexei Ginzburg is overseeing a thorough restoration of the building, following many years of research of methods for working with modernist buildings. It is hoped that this will be an exemplary restoration, that will serve as a positive precedent for repairing other buildings of the same period that are languishing in disrepair and abandonment all over Russia. For more information on Russia's avant garde buildings see The Constructivist Project

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Episode 03. DJ-ing Cats, Vegetable Puppetry & Supremacist Sandwich Art

In this episode we talk to Pushkin House Trustee, Ariadne Arendt. Born on the Black Sea in Crimea, and named after her great-grandmother, Ariadne moved to London from Moscow when she was four. Her creative projects span a wide range: a gangster Russian cat deejay alter-ego, a fictional artistic movement dedicated exclusively to sandwiches, a travelling vegetable puppet show, offering classic Russian literature spin-offs like Anna Karrotenina, Eugene Onionegin, Crime and Radishment. In addition to this Ariadne talks about her personal experience of growing up between different cultures and establishing a sense of belonging, from the Soviet Union to Montenegro.

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An illustration of DJ Mourrka by Ariadne Arendt.

An illustration of DJ Mourrka by Ariadne Arendt.

Ariadne and her merchandise stall at an East London festival.

Ariadne and her merchandise stall at an East London festival.

Theatre Borscht.

Theatre Borscht.

Episode 02. Twilight of a Woman's Soul

In this episode we are in conversation with three leading women about the ways in which they relate to Russia, as part of our current season and exhibition of photographs of Leningrad and Moscow taken by Margaret Watkins in 1933. We talk to Natasha Butterwick, about her tenure as owner of the website Russian Art and Culture. We also discuss the role of women in pre-revolutionary and contemporary Russian cinema with author of the book 'Performing Femininity: Woman as Performer in Russian Cinema', Dr. Rachel Morley from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Finally, we are taken on a journey to the snow covered streets of Moscow with the BAFTA award winning film and television director Margy Kinmonth, the name behind 'Hermitage Revealed' and most recently 'Revolution: New Art for a New World', who also sheds exclusive light on her newest film project in Russia.

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Natasha Butterwick, Russian Art and Culture

Natasha Butterwick, Russian Art and Culture

'Performing Femininity: Woman as Performer in Early Russian Cinema' by Dr. Rachel Morley

'Performing Femininity: Woman as Performer in Early Russian Cinema' by Dr. Rachel Morley

Margy Kinmonth, Foxtrot Films

Margy Kinmonth, Foxtrot Films

Episode 01. Margaret Watkins Leningrad and Moscow 1933

In this episode we talk to Joe Mulholland, proprietor of the Hidden Lane Gallery in Glasgow, who has championed the Margaret Watkins archive since discovering it some years after her death. Joe narrates an exclusive walk through the classic images on display in the Pushkin House library, as part of our current exhibition of photographs by Margaret Watkins. He shares the extraordinary story of this woman's life, work, and death, including her visit to post-revolutionary Russia.

Never miss an episode, subscribe and rate the Pushkin House Podcast on Apple iTunes.

Joe Mulholland speaking at the opening of the Margaret Watkins photography exhibition at Pushkin House.

Joe Mulholland speaking at the opening of the Margaret Watkins photography exhibition at Pushkin House.

Self-portrait by Margaret Watkins, 1921.

Self-portrait by Margaret Watkins, 1921.