Seventeen Dreams of Josef Stalin /
USSR Palace of Soviets

Concept, script and selection of materials: Mikhail Karasik
Design and animation: Irina Karpova
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Published to coincide with the exhibition:
Mikhail Karasik. Palace of Soviets (album of lithographs)
M.K. Kharmsizdatprodakshn, St Petersburg, 2007

Stalin dreams of constructing the most grandiose building in the world, from the enormous height of which he plans to survey the conquests of socialism. When the drawing up of the plans began, Stalin was fifty years old — an age of achievement and wisdom. The Palace of Soviets was not only intended to be the highest and most important building in the world, but also, perhaps, following the death of the Leader, a site of adoration, a pyramid dedicated to a modern pharaoh. This aspect, of course, wasn’t mentioned to the architects, but the idea germinates in the depths of the Leader’s heart. As yet it is unknown where the sarcophagus will be buried — this will only become clear following the final adoption of the architectural plans. For now, Stalin can’t even hint at such ideas. After all, he is still strong and the people believe in him. And, what’s more, he has another idea — to live eternally. The Palace itself could become the embodiment of the idea of eternal life. So far, Stalin has only mastered 1/6 of the earth’s land, but he already envisages the coming victories of the proletariat around the globe. It is when this comes to pass that he will need the highest building in the world, from which he can lead all the people on the Earth. The Palace will become the heart and brain of the planet!

Stalin stands at the table in his Kremlin study and looks over the first designs. He has opened a competition for plans for the Palace of Soviets. Architects from all over the world will take part in the competition. The concrete architectural solution isn’t the key thing — it’s vitally important that the competition enters into the discourse of Soviet people and the workers of the world. A new architectural dream is needed. Various designs and visions of the new place enter Stalin’s mind. He dreams.

From a heap of plans, Stalin pulls out the designs of Iofan which, as yet, don’t have a sculpture of Lenin serving as a cupola. He likes the fact that it’s a tower and that it can be made higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the cathedral in Cologne and even the Empire State Building in New York. He envisages the Palace of Soviets as the tallest building in the world. He is gripped by a will to strive ever higher. After all, height tempts. Height is pride. The temptation of St. Anthony, the temptation of Christ. All temptations arise from height or descend upon us from on high...