Our copy of 'CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed' just arrived from Amazon, and we're agog. Photographer Frederic Chaubin spent seven years photographing extraordinary buildings that were designed and erected in the last 15 years of the existence of the USSR.

The old cliche is of Soviet architecture being a reflection of the state that created it: monolithic, overbearing and uniform. Chaubin's book shows the exceptions to this rule, an incredible flowering of creativity in the late-Soviet period that resulted in some of the most breathtaking and nutcase buildings you'll ever see.


Chaubin calls these buildings "aesthetic outsiders in an ocean of grey", and suggests they were able to be built because the "Soviet net grew slack... the intertia of the Soviet machine, too busy putting off its own demise, let the work it commissioned on its margins float free of its control". Most of these buildings are in the former Soviet Union's fringes: the Polish border, the Caucasus, or the Black Sea.  But then he also wonders if the USSR under Andropov (who followed Kruschev's almost two decades in power) grew bolder.

Another good quote from Chaubin's very good opening essay: "The fact is that in Russia the most Neanderthal conformism always coexists with the boldest avant-gardes". (He's a pretty good writer as well as photographer).

There's always something enticing about faded utopian dreams, and this book is one of the best examples of that. So yes, it's highly recommended.