A Stone from the Moon

The project A Stone from the Moon (2015-2022) investigates historical, contemporary and future geopolitical power struggles and ideologies, and the role of architecture and urban planning in this context. A Stone from the Moon consists of two works, video installations based on photography and archival imagery: Ecumenopolis and Capital City. Both works investigate blueprints for a city of the future - in and outside the context of an ideological and geopolitical power struggle.

The work Ecumenopolis departs from the so-called Cultural Cold War, in which East and West tried to extend their spheres of influence by means of art and culture. In 1967 it was revealed that many western Cultural Cold War activities were funded by the CIA. A similar Cultural Cold War battle took place in the field of architecture, in which East and West tried to extend their spheres of influence by means of export-urbanism. Within this framework, in America, modernist architecture and urban planning - as a counterpart of Soviet socialist realism - were considered to be a powerful instrument in Cold War politics, to fight the War on Communism and to spread the American values of freedom and democracy. An important figure in this context was the Greek architect and urban planner Constantinos Doxiadis (1913-1975). Doxiadis planned and built many cities throughout the world, a.o. Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Besides playing an important role within the American export-urbanism, Doxiadis worked on his own mission. This so-called ekistic mission was based on his scientific theory ekistics, the science of human settlements, and was eventually to evolve into a blueprint for Ecumenopolis, a world-encompassing city of the future (2150).
In the late 1950s, for his ekistic mission, Doxiadis set up an interdisciplinary and scientific field and network, in which the so-called Delos Symposia played an important role. In the summers of 1963 to 1975, twelve Delos Symposia took place, during which Doxiadis and an interdisciplinary network of inspirational fellows, the so-called Delians, sailed the Aegean Sea, and circled the island of Delos and its ancient Greek city. In order to envision the urban future, the Delians were to travel back in time.
The work Ecumenopolis (a video installation based on photographic and archival imagery) connects the archaeological setting of the island and the ancient Greek city of Delos with the fictional city of the future Ecumenopolis. As the story unfolds, two different perspectives are interweaved on Doxiadis and his Delians, drawing both on official archives celebrating his architecture as a practice beyond politics, and on alternative sources that trace a more complex context - the context of the Cultural Cold War, an ideological and geopolitical power struggle.

The work Capital City investigates the evolution of Eurasia as a geographical, cultural and (geo)political concept, and a city of the future, Capital City, in the heart of Eurasia. In 2005 the president of post-communist Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev (1991-2019), wrote the manifesto The Heart of Eurasia, about Astana, the new futuristic capital of Kazakhstan. Astana (Capital City in English) is situated in the Kazakh steppe and has been built from scratch since the early 2000s. Nursultan Nazarbayev - a Eurasianist thinker who initially invented the idea for a Eurasian Union in 1994 - took the role of founder and architect of Astana. He did not only envision the new capital city he erected in the Kazakh steppe as the centre of Kazakhstan, but the heart of a larger area as well: Eurasia. With Capital City he made his Eurasianism manifest as a concrete reality as well as a utopian project with much wider ramifications.
The work Capital City (a video installation based on photography) shows various perspectives on reality around Nazarbayev’s mission, his Eurasianism and his city of the future, Capital City. Speaking from the near future, a voiceover connects Nazarbajev’s Eurasianism with earlier ideas from Classical Eurasianism or Left-wing Eurasianism from just after the Russian Revolution, as well as a new Eurasianism which is deeply entwined with the Kremlin today. The cyclical narrative underscores how, over the past hundred years, the idea of Eurasia continues to be resurrected, while the underlying visions and geopolitical implications reveal significant shifts.

The project A Stone from the Moon is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund, CBK Rotterdam and Cultuurfonds/Tijl Fonds