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City of the Living – City of the Dead

Leonhard Lapin, 1978. MEA 4.18.2

In the 1970s, in order to voice common opinions and organise a number of social-critical exhibitions and undertakings, avant-garde architectural students united to form a group later called the Tallinn School. “Elavate linn – Surnute linn” (“City of the Living – City of the Dead”) is Leonhard Lapin’s satirical take on the construction of characterless mass housing. The author hid several important allegories in the drawing: the words “Väike õhkamine” (“Little Sighing”) stuck between the buildings symbolise the Pruitt-Igoe Modernist housing project in St. Louis, MO, USA (demolished in 1972); while “Autodes matmine” (“Burial in cars”) in the centre of the work references Lapin’s friend Vilen Künnapu (also an architect), who was one of the first members of the Tallinn School to acquire a vehicle. The drawing was displayed at the Library of the Estonian Academy of Science in 1978 among other works of which many were donated to the museum by engineer Reet Lumiste in 1991.


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