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Alternate history, Critical Spatial Practice


April 2018-September 2018

Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London


Project initiated & led by / Ishita Jain 

Dissertation project towards the MA in Architectural History at Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London

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Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow is an assemblage of many sites encountered by sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky as he navigated the spaces of making and exhibiting art in Soviet Russia as a non-conformist artist. He occupied the spaces created by the regime and through his occupation changed the function of these spaces. This, in turn, changed his subjective states as well. These changes cannot be accessed if a conventional historical method is used. 


The thesis aimed to unpack the sites and their respective subjective transformations through three distinct modes of research - immersion, investigation and co-creation. These modes implicated their respective larger sites as well - Glasgow, Russia and The Page of the dissertation, where along with the readers, meanings and subjectivity can be made. Through this process of research, taking Sharmanka as a case study, the study explored the pieces of evidence that are found in art practices,  born as affective encounters within the gallery space, and that trigger a further investigation and reflection - to produce an alternative account of the subjectivity of those spaces. Such evidence may become key to those accounts that are created and hidden within totalitarian regimes.


The study relied on Deleuze’s exploration of subjectivity, Walter Benjamin’s ‘thought-images’ as a method of writing history and an embodied participation with the gallery space. It revealed through immersive explorations in the space that which has escaped history but has been captured by art. Such pieces of evidence were present to be found, and this thesis pointed to some of them to acknowledge their presence. They were found in what is called the subjectivity of architecture. This way, when the regime hides or destroys, not all may be lost.  

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