Archive for the ‘soviet’ Category
Plan on seeing the exhibit of Soviet Paintings (From Thaw to Meltdown: Soviet Paintings of the 1950s-1980s) at The Museum of Russian Art in South Minneapolis before it closes shop later this month.
The paintings on the top two floors start with unbridled propaganda, depicting solid workers grinning about their jobs in the steel mills, factories and collectivist farms. The strong women and robust men in their industrial settings are both beautiful and horrifying at the same time, when you realize some of the workers were more likely emaciated prisoners from the nearby prison (“Beautifying Saransk” by Alexander A. Mukhin). But the exhibit takes you beyond the grand hyperbole to show how the artists worked within the political boundaries even as they let bits of reality in. By the time you get to the back of the top floor, you are seeing more realistic depictions, including the unsettling working conditions in steel mills.
It’s worth walking downstairs to see photos of actual workers, families and daily life in the Soviet Union: gritty and sober images in black and white. If you grew up during the Cold War, these are the images you remember.
And then it’s worth considering how images shape our lives. The propaganda paintings are easily recognized and dismissed—though many seem stunning today. The photos in the lower gallery seem more real—but they are just as much showing one viewpoint—another kind of persuasive effort that contrasts well with the upper galleries. A guy can’t help but wonder what sorts of images our political candidates can paint when $1 million fundraisers are the standard fare. A lotta loot buys a lotta propaganda.
Go soon—the exhibit closes shop in August.
Leader’s sometimes resist conversation as long as they can. The dictator’s monologues that preceded the Arab Spring seemed to end abruptly—at least to those of us watching casually from suburban homes. The Occupy movement keeps facing us with truths about the financial classes who have tilted the playing field to reward themselves at the expense of many.
Now it’s Putin’s turn. You gotta love a people that show up with the slogan “We exist!” It’s not even a demand except in the deep, heart-felt recognition that the party of thieves and liars has been talking past them for too many decades. That is a basic, human response.
“We exist.” Great starting place for moving from monologue to dialogue.
The Truth in Consequences
Today in class we talk about visuals and how to use them. Graphs, charts, line drawings, photographs—all the stuff we see every day in our media excursions. As a copywriter I am very fond of visuals: I love the way they succinctly tell the story I labor to explain with words.
But there is a genre of images we shy away from—images entirely out of sync with the pleasant, positive, climate-controlled and safe communication we aim for. These images follow the shock and awe tactics of the Brothers Grimm: show what happens when you don’t follow our rules. Things just may not turn out so well, Mister.
You don’t need to know Russian to see that you really should be careful around turning axles, backing train cars and the odd drill press. And it was not so long ago in our country that we showed our youngsters exactly what might happen with their lively hijinks.
But maybe we’ve gone too far with our de-linking of action and consequence. When writing copy I rarely name the negative side of things. Instead, I always build on the positive. Maybe we could all use a bit of that Russian backbone.