Exporting Socialism–Poland and the Global South

Our second book discussion features two recently published exhibition catalogs by Łukasz StanekPRL™. Export Architecture and Urbanism from Socialist Poland / Eksport architektury i urbanistyki z Polski Ludowej, Text: Łukasz Stanek / Design: Metahaven, special supplement to Piktogram 15, 2011. Postmodernism Is Almost All Right: Polish Architecture after Socialist Globalization / Postmodernizm jest prawie v porządku: Polska architektura po socjalistycznej globalizacji Text: Łukasz Stanek / Design: Jayme Yen, edited by Warsaw Museum of Modern Art / Fundacja bęc zmiana, 2012. PIKTOGRAM_coverIn these generously illustrated collections of architectural projects, diverse documents, and visual materials, the author investigates the export of socialist urbanism to the Global South between the 1960s and 1990s. He shows how the encounter between Polish architects, engineers, and urban planners with local experts and third parties involved in construction endeavors in the Middle East and Africa turned out to be truly transformative for all parties. In particular, Stanek traces how such encounters made architects reconsider and alter the architectural vocabulary of socialist modernism that is commonly associated with the architectural production of the Second World. PIAAR_cover_smallIn turn, their work reveals how traditional notions of the Cold War’s dynamics dominated by Washington and Moscow fails to capture the diverse relationships that existed between countries of the Second World and the Third World. And the motivations that drove Polish architects to seek out commissions in countries such as Ghana and Iraq are likewise complex and defy easy explanations. To begin our discussion, we have invited Elke Beyer and Viviana d’Auria to review the two exhibition catalogs. Readers are welcome to contribute comments to the posts featured below.

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