Martor No. 24 / Year 2019

The “Socialist Modernism” Platform: Online Archives and Knowledge Production in Central and Eastern Europe

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Maria Cristache

Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

Pages: 57-68

Keywords: Architecture, knowledge, images, online archives, visual research methodology.


In this article I explore the relationship between online archives and the process of knowledge production by looking at visual representations of modernist architecture. I focus on the project “Socialist Modernism,” developed by the Bureau for Art and Urban Research (B.A.C.U.) with the purpose of collecting photos of buildings erected in Central and Eastern Europe. The goal is to determine what this project reveals about the built environment in socialism and its post-socialist transformation. For this purpose, I look at the content produced and disseminated by the project team through a visual studies methodological approach. Namely, I am interested in how the images are received, used, and (re)interpreted in visual studies. 

I discuss the case study of the Romanița Collective Housing Tower from Chișinău with the aid of theories of landscape, space, and architecture as a form of knowledge. This entails analyzing the content generated by B.A.C.U., the pictures themselves and the ways in which the public reacts to the material circulated. In addition to the visual and textual forms of knowledge produced by B.A.C.U., the viewers place these images into a wider context, reinterpret their significance, and sometimes contest the claims made by the project team. Based on these observations, this new type of archive seems to be shaped by the interaction between different actors, such as users of digital content, professional groups, and the state.

How to cite this article: Cristache, Maria. 2019. “The ‘Socialist Modernism’ Platform: Online Archives and Knowledge Production in Central and Eastern Europe.” Martor 24: 57-68. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2019.24.05]