Critical Mass. Season 5

  • Guided tour with historian Alexander Semyonov about typical housing  of the Soviet era and romantic capitalist architecture of 2000s
    1/1 | Guided tour with historian Alexander Semyonov about typical housing of the Soviet era and romantic capitalist architecture of 2000s
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О проекте : 


Artist residencies, series of online discussions, school for young artists, exhibition and zin.

2019-2021, St Petersburg

Participating artists
Ahmed Al-Nawas (Finland) in collaboration with Elena Atnagulova, Marina Karpova, Elana Sylova, Anastasia Vepreva and Roman Osminkin, Nina Støttrup Larsen (Denmark/The Netherlands), Lybov Matyunina (Russia/The Netherlands), METASITU, artist duo (Latvia/Spain), Pinar Ogrenci (Turkey/Germany), Roman Osminkin (Russia), Yuri Veerman (The Netherlands).



In 2019 - 2020 TOK’s most continuous and long-term project ‘Critical Mass’ swings in its 5th season. Entitled ‘Get Real!’, it is  devoted to the emerging and complex issues of housing, real estate,  contemporary and historical housing conditions in post-socialist and neoliberal contexts. Throughout the two years we will explore the issues of housing construction, distribution and ownership that concern residents and authorities of all the world's major megacities. Rising real estate prices, gentrification, growing population, large-scale hosing projects on sites of demolished architectural monuments and in city outskirts are radically changing urban landscapes and power relations in the cities. 

The Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living and well-being. At the seeming down of social democracy and rising influence of right-wing political parties, capitalism acceleration, growing precarity and social control, affordable housing is becoming a problem and an increasingly inaccessible resource in the world, thus polarizing societies and stimulating social stratification.

Seeing response to emerging political challenges as an important aspect of their curatorial practice, TOK curators would like to invite artists and researchers to enter the territory of propertization and real estate problematics in the context of growing social insecurity and financial inequality, contemporary mobility, city expansion and climate change. Through multidisciplinary analysis of the building, distribution and use of housing property we’re conducting  art-based research of real estate issues in historical and current sociopolitical conditions in Russia and Europe as well globally. We will study urban areas with mass-produced architecture that were developed throughout the 20th century (mainly after the WWII and in the 1960-1970s) till nowadays and will analyze how housing systems and legislation have been affected by complex relations between government, business and citizens and will try to imagine potential scenarios for development of this sphere.

The project will specifically focus on the area of South-West of St Petersburg. Being a large district that is traditionally cut off from the rest of the city due to lack of transportation infrastructure, it represents a combination of both historical and contemporary architecture and public space design. This vast area  is mostly composed of residential buildings with different types of flats: from first types of khrushevkas to contemporary tower residential complexes for hundreds of thousands of people. What makes this area interesting for the project research is a vast combination of different housing projects built though the 70’s-80’s and new residential buildings  constructed by private companies in the past 5-6 years that reflects upon the city post-Soviet era development.

Like most of the project’s seasons, season 5 will be divided in two major stages - research and implementation. All participating artists will spend During the research visit, the international artists are accommodated in the South-West of St Petersburg, both in newly built and slightly older apartment buildings. This gives them a better way to understand the context of the area, merge into the environment and gain some local experience of living in the area: doing groceries, going shopping, eating in local places and traveling to and from the center to this remote district. After their research all the participating artists come up with project proposals that will be realized by the fall 2020 and presented in different formats in the South-West. By bringing the project to a non-central area TOK continues the idea of Critical Mass to spread the territory of contemporary art in St Petersburg ad collaborating with non-artistic communities and venues that have a crucial role in the project development.


The 5th season of Critical Mass is supported by Nordic Culture Fund, Consulate General of the Netherlands on St Petersburg, Goethe Institute in St Petersburg, Stumuliringfonds (The Netherlands), FRAME Contemporary Art Finland, AC/E (Spain)