Monthly Archives: January 2020

Po-Mo in Soviet Tbilisi

Soviet Po-Mo:
What can we learn from Georgia’s forgotten master architect?

Jorbenadze’s Wedding Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia

Best known for his Wedding Palace, a gloriously phallic edifice which stands erect on a hill above Tbilisi, Viktor Jorbenadze was an outlier among late Soviet architects. Angela Wheeler and William Dunbar celebrate the work of an unsung postmodernist hero

Text by Angela Wheeler and  William Dunbar

 

Rising from the banks of the Mtkvari River, the structure dominates the landscape like an enormous abstract sculpture. Its ritual function is unmistakable: it is the size of a cathedral and clad in the same warm stone used in Georgia’s medieval churches. It also happens to be exuberantly phallic — a giant cock and balls against Tbilisi’s ancient skyline.The Palace of Rituals, or Wedding Palace as it is universally known, is the wrong building in the wrong place at the wrong time: a cathedral built in the atheist USSR, a Soviet celebration of Georgian national heritage, a cultural innovation in an era remembered largely for conformity. It is the work of Viktor Jorbenadze — nicknamed Jorbusier for his love of the French-Swiss master — an architect of genius whose daring and provocative buildings defy categorisation. Just like the now-forgotten moment that produced them.