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Destinations · Europe · russian federation · Moscow · Museums and galleries ·

Centre for Contemporary Art at the Udarnik picture theatre

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Centre for Contemporary Art at the Udarnik picture theatre

The unique building of the Udarnik movie house on the bank of the Moskva River is part of a legendary complex designed by the architect Boris Iofan, popularly known in Russia as 'the House on the Embankment' ('Dom na Naberezhnoy') and considered one of the symbols of Moscow. A vivid example of Constructivist architecture, it was completed in 1931 and remains one of the largest Russian cinemas to date. The building's retractable roof is often cited as an value-added feature; admittedly, the system has not been in working order for the last few decades; apparently, opening the roof has not even been attempted since the unveiling. It was here that the most significant of Soviet films premiered to an audience of the Soviet elite. Many of the movies first screened here - the likes of 'Volga, Volga', 'Jolly Fellows' ('Vesyolye Rebyata'), 'Circus', etc. - later became Soviet film classics.
In the 1990s the Kremlin, located 'just across the street' from the House on the Embankment, was forced to put up with the fact the Udarnik cinema was housing a car showroom, replaced by one of the biggest casinos in Europe in the noughties. And now it will have to co-exist with contemporary culture, famously not always exactly convenient for the powers that be. Under the guidance of the famous Russian art patron and collector, head of the Artchronika Cultural Foundation and initiator of the Kandinsky Prize Shalva Breus, a new centre is being created here. While a contemporary art museum (the core of its holdings comprised of the Artchronika collection) will be the backbone of the upcoming institution, hosting various exhibitions, conferences, film screenings and talks is mentioned as an equally important area of activity. The organisers emphasise their objective of making Udarnik a centre for education aimed at all age groups and attracting the youth audience. Naturally, much is made of the unique opportunity to view works of video art on the big screen.
26 October will see the first exhibition - a show of works by the 2012 Kandinsky Prize nominees -open at the Udarnik Centre. By the time, reconstruction work will not have been completed yet and the great original will still be rising from the ashes. However, according to Shalva Breus, visitors will still be able to discover all 'habitation levels' of the building, from Constructivism and Stalin's Empire style to the faux Classicism of the 'New Russians', the legacy left behind by the casino. All storeys of the Udarnik building will be dedicated to the exhibition, including the cinema auditorium with the 16-metre tall ceiling.

2 Ulitsa Serafimowitcha

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