The In - Between Space

written by Mira Stanić
photographer Alexander Gronsky


Moscow – the structure of rings and the Kremlin in the centre. Such an urban formation easily lends itself to visionary ideas, both to the utopian ones – such as, for instance, in Campanella’s City of the Sun or in Filarete’s Sforzinda – as well as to the opposite ones. Quite frequently, such a formation is also assigned the role of mediator between the earthly and the celestial. The image of Moscow as a concentric city is universal in sociological imagination, which makes it particularly favourable for totalitarian visions. This ideal geometry was perfectly integrated into the image of a new metropolis with the unrealized Palace of the Soviets in the very focal point in the 1930s, and the reconstruction of Moscow became a glimmer of hope for all those on the periphery of the Soviet Union, in particular since the beginning of the mass housing programme of the 1950s. And yet, when the system in the centre of such a setting is rotting, unrealized utopian connotations are easily translated into dystopian ones, and growing spatial and social differences erode the vision of a perfect city. With power that is concentrated in the centre, it is the periphery where ideological slogans lose their meaning soonest. Exactly here, along the edge of the outer Moscow ring, through a series of photographs titled Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs, Alexander Gronsky records the scenes that maintain a balance between these, not allowing either of the two to dominate.