The artist's formal consistency gives an uneasy noir feel to these communities, one of isolation, insulation, and other social outcomes of the microrayons. Winter is an endtime season, a period of transition, reflection, rethinking recent history, here stripped of all pretense.
People are anonymous, tiny figures, all bundled up, threading their way between the snowbanks along wet, possibly muddy walkways as they come and go. In most pictures where they are found, they are not discernable as individuals, and often alone or in small groups. Only in one picture do we see people engaged in obvious leisure time activity, an image of children playing in the snow.
These pictures show the buildings, both as individual units and in clusters, and the context in which they exist: service areas, roads, and highways ringing Moscow sometimes in close proximity to these structures with their half-shell noise barriers, looking more like a lyrically organic visual shield against the ubiquitous microrayon.
The infrastructure around these buildings is carefully included: There are small nondescript buildings that look like shops; others are probably management, security, heating units, or electrical stations, roads, bus stops and a bus. Here and there, a smokestack punctures the horizon. We even see ground broken, awaiting the construction of another microrayon.
Megastructure is divided into five chapters. The first dawns with fuzzy, mirage-like images, bringing to mind Sugimoto's 'Architecture', opening up to revelatory reflections and the distant microrayons through train or bus windows, as if the viewer is arriving. Treelines with the apartment buildings in the background, snow piled up in the foreground. Ground broken for the construction of a new structure. Access roads leading to the complexes. A feeling of an idea(l) taking shape as one approaches. A poetic, instead of objective, approach.
The Second Chapter, comprised of single images, brings us closer still to the clusters. Here there is exploration of construction sites, roads, infrastructure, people coming and going, even billboards. We learn what is around these buildings - their context.
In Chapter Three lie multiple, interrelated images, very interlude-like, some receding and fuzzy. Transportation in the form of roads, people waiting for the bus or train, gas pumps, a row of semi truck-trailers. A building towers majestically in uncorrected perspective. A bus. Some lights on in the buildings in the distance: a sign of life.
The Fourth Chapter leaves the artifacts of stitching various frames together and correcting perspective in a panorama digitally. Self-referential to the process, here the ersatz veracity is deconstructed yet simultaneously heightened by including entire microrayons, and connecting neighboring ones. The enormity of the microrayons becomes readily apparent. More undeveloped and developed land is shown, colors become more noticeable, and the tectonics between the snow and buildings is clearer. Construction cranes rise like skeletal beings above the land. The forest of structures is revealed.
In closing, Chapter Five, at dusk, brings color back. Rich darkening blues intensify as line softens and softly blurs. Lights are on in the units, signs of life inside. In the last picture, as we depart, we see one last blurry shimmering apartment block through the window, much like we did at the beginning.
Spiritually, there is a similarity to James Joyce's Ulysses. This series could be seen as taking place in one day, marked by arrival in a bus or train, followed by a prolonged, labyrinthian walk around the buildings, and departure in the evening. The buildings, like the people in them, look the same, but the philosophy and the times that shaped, enveloped, and guided them is now gone. Time and ideals expire, paradigms shift, and the spirit lags under inertia until it redefines itself, adapting and coming to terms with the present.
The repeating representations of these units, looking like Super-Sized apiaries clustered around snowy, barren landscapes, blurs the line between utility and aesthetics. It would be easy to construe Megastructure as a Germanic, Becher-esque typology of microrayons & infrastructure en situ, but it is not anything of the kind.
Bee's appproach rejects the operatic, analytical, omniscient, explanatory viewpoint for a more direct poesis, a dialectic between the ideals of communism and its outcome. He has expanded our experiential menu via successive approximations, similar to movements in classical music- not by serving us on a silver platter, but by being our guide, taking us past snow-banked roads and fields, through a forest of manifestations of an ideal.
It is always Winter in Megastructure. Snow-covered ground, numbing cold, the dark tracery of tree-limbs and grey skies predominate in these pictures, a still and sparsely populated frozen landscape punctuated by these huge blocks of apartments, whose moment has come and gone, the artist shifting and redacting their codification as they become recontextualized in the Post- Soviet era, from the status quo to a monumental requiem for an ideal.