• A House for Culture
    Nicolas Grospierre

Nicolas Grospierre, Kibbutz Heftziba House of Culture (Ziva Armoni, architect), 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

The modernist project believed in the role of culture in the harmonious development of individuals and society. This ideal found its embodiment in one building type: the House of Culture. Interestingly, two analogous yet dissimilar social organizations had Houses of Culture systematically built because they were perceived as central to the dynamics of these communities: the Soviet kolkhoz and the Israeli kibbutz. As such, their architecture was always representative and often experimental. This is the case in most Israeli kibbutzim and in many kolkhozes of the formerly Soviet Baltic States (especially in Estonia). However, the demise of socialism and privatization trends led many Houses of Culture to be either transformed for other purposes or simply abandoned. A House for Culture attempts at documenting, through a systematic photographic approach, the current state of Houses of Culture. Through photographic typology, this project shows the forgotten ideals of this near-utopian architectural achievement and its legacy today.

Nicolas Grospierre is a visual artist working in the expanded field of photography, with an interest in architecture. Together with Kobas Laksa, for their exhibition in the Polish Pavilion, Grospierre was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale. Grospierre's use of photography as a medium ranges from classical documentary photography to elaborate photomontages, video, and spatial photographic installations. In his work, Grospierre uses the visual language of architecture to create narratives, which relate not simply to the buildings photographed, but more broadly to ideas, institutions, and ideologies. Grospierre has exhibited extensively, and his latest shows include: The Oval Offices, State Gallery of Art, Sopot (2013); The Bank, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2012); Modern Tales, PhotoEspana, Madrid (2011); Paper Planes: Phase 2, Arup, London (2011); One Thousand Doors: No Exit, Graham Foundation, Chicago (2011); and TATTARRATTAT, Signum Foundation, Venice (2010). His monograph Open-Ended was published by Berlin’s Jovis Publishers in 2013.