Michal Murawski

Since November 2017 Michal Murawski, Polish anthropologist and researcher of post-Socialist architecture, has organized a series of workshops on Zaryadyology.



Zaryadye Park – often represented in the media and in official pronouncements as either Putin and/or Sobyanin’s gift to Moscow – is designed by Manhattan architects, well-schooled in critical theory and self-perceiving as «mavericks» and «dissidents». Its aesthetic is global, cutting-edge, cosmopolitan, eco-futurist: it is the opposite of the vertical bling of the Luzhkov-era. 

Russia's «landscape typologies» – tundra, taiga, steppe and coastal forest have been «gathered» in Zaryadye, like the Soviet nationalities in VDNKh. The cuisines of all Russia and of the entire post-Soviet space are here in «Gastronomic Centre». A still-more-expansive range of even more expensive post-Soviet cuisines (and extra-terrestrial aesthetics) is served in the monumental, cosmically-themed, neo-futurist «Voshod» restaurant – essentially an artwork by Arseny Zhilyaev or Belyaev-Gintovt rendered in real life: there are levitating plant pots, cosmonaut flower vases sprouting red carnations, bas-reliefs of demiurgic workers and kolkhoznitsas (Vera Mukhina meets Michelangelo) and solar system chandeliers; the roof is cloned from the former «Kosmos» restaurant at the Hotel Rossiya and the organ-like tubular ceilings from Sheremetyevo airport. 

Visitors to the park are also invited to take part in an extravagant «fourdimensional» simulated «Flight over Moscow» – essentially an updated version of the f light over Moscow from the high-Stalinist 1940 Alexandrov film, «Svetly Put», the «Alice in Wonderland of Culture Two», in Vladimir Paperny’s words; and another 4D attraction called «Time Machine», a digital panorama of the history of Zaryadye, Red Square and The Kremlin (a sort of Borodino Panorama for the late Putin age).

Once they have completed all of these (and many other) paid-for attractions («Flight over Moscow» costs 790 roubles for 20 minutes), visitors can enjoy stunning views of old Moscow, of the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral, and of the Stalinist vysotka on Kotelnicheskaya Nabereznhnaya, from the two primary viewing spots: the tundra peak on top of the Media Centre, or the «Soaring Bridge» jutting out over the Moskva River. Soon, they will also be able to attend concerts conducted by Valery Gergiev (of «Palmyra Fame») at the new Zaryadye Philharmonic Hall. Already now they can climb the grass hill atop the Philharmonic – it is topped by a gigantic glass hat and fitted with complex «climate-augmenting» technology, whose job it is to keep visitors warm during the winter and cool in the summer. 

From underneath the giant glass hat, they can still see the remainder of the workers' gorodok, a slum-like space where the labourers who built the park have their warehouses and offices; and where, in some cases, they live, three or four men to a container-like bytovka. The majority of these labourers are gastarbeiters from remote parts of Russia and the former Soviet Union, working on precarious contracts: they are the underclass building the New Moscow. They cook shashliks – much like those served in Zaryadye's restaurants, within which their various national cuisines have been centripetally «gathered» – on a makeshift mangal.

DI #2-2018


April 16, 2018