A student exhibition about a Soviet school of freethinking avant garde architects has been reinstated to a New York City gallery after it was hastily scrapped last month in response to criticism from Ukrainian diaspora
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th February, 2023) A student exhibition about a Soviet school of freethinking avant garde architects has been reinstated to a New York City gallery after it was hastily scrapped last month in response to criticism from Ukrainian diaspora.
The Cooper Union private college on January 25 postponed indefinitely the exhibition, "Vkhutemas: Laboratory of the Avant-Garde, 1920-1930," that was due to open that day in the Houghton Gallery, following a scathing article on online forum Archinect that questioned its timing and location, near the Little Ukraine neighborhood.
The show about a century-old Moscow design school, Vkhutemas, was prepared and curated by Anna Bokov, a prize-winning architect and faculty member of the Cooper Union, who educated students on the Russian equivalent of the Bauhaus. The New York Times reported that the show was about a collection of models reconstructed by Bokov's students from surviving Vkhutemas designs.
The postponement was met with outrage from 763 scholars, teachers and students, who signed a letter of protest criticizing this "troubling instance of censorship and historical erasure." They said the Archinect article penned by Peder Anker, a history of science professor at New York University, was "intellectually questionable" and "a chilling impingement on academic freedom and education."
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which bills itself as a free center of learning, reversed its stand this week, saying the show would be back this spring, complemented by materials that will frame it within the "broader geopolitical context."
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Anker admitted he had neither seen the show nor known what was in it. He also said that the idea of his article came from a casual lunch with Ukraine-associated neighbors. Scholars said in the letter that he was not an expert on Soviet art and architecture.
The newspaper also reported that Anker knew Bokov personally but did not disclose this prior to the publication, in which he alleged her connections to the Kremlin. Cathy Popkin, professor emerita of Russian at Columbia University, said in an email to the daily that the attack on the show's curator was a sinister "smear campaign."