The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center presents “Socialist Surrealism”, an exhibition featuring 16 large-format works by photographer Sasha Gentsis. At the heart of the project is the contradiction between socialism’s conceptual utopia and the everyday life of the Soviet Union.
For almost four years, Sasha Gentsis photographed abandoned as well as currently operating facilities at the historic ZIL factory, spoke with workers and collected stories about the Soviet industrial giant. "Socialist Surrealism" is the result of this work, showcasing the contemporary fate of such socialist industrial behemoths. Monumental, once grandiose ideas embodied in the architecture of factories, the ideology of labor and public well-being expressed by the progressive development of industrial muscles, have today become more like ruins than a legacy of achievement.
The project “Socialist Surrealism” is designed to convey the emotional atmosphere of socialist life, which has long exited the stage of reality and reached a qualitatively new level of surrealism. These photo works capture the utilitarian aesthetics of the past and uphold the need to preserve the cultural memory of that era and the last days of ZIL, not so much as a monument to Soviet ideology and industry, but as an example of the unique atmosphere, energy and scale of that legendary time. Sasha Gentsis seeks to tell the history of this factory and preserve its memory for future generations. With his participation, it has been possible to maintain the power-generation building designed by the Vesnin architectural masters.
Exhibition curator: Artеm Loginov