Visions of Utopia: Soviet Posters of the 1920s and 1930s from the Marx Library Collection


7th November - 5th December 2013

This exhibition presents Soviet posters of the first two decades following the October Revolution – the period when a grandiose attempt to build a new society and a new world in Russia was most intense and driven by an ingenious believe in the real possibility to do that. In other words, it was driven by Utopia. Post-revolution society was changing very quickly and the character of Utopia transformed hugely during those two decades. The posters in the exhibition explicitly show the move from utopia to dystopia during that period. The exhibition contains 25 works by Gustav Klutsis, Valentina Kulagina, Yakov Guminer, Daniil Cherkes and other artists. Curators: Jane Powell, Grant Pooke, Elena Zaytseva.

Tatiana Baskakova is a London-based Russian artist whose work is largely dedicated to the exploration of aesthetic and political links possible in contemporary art practice. She primarily works with performance, media art and publishing.
Her work People's Deputies Dance was presented in III Moscow Young Art Biennale in 2012, and she participated in the theatre projects with Chto Delat? group in 2013.
Baskakova also works within anonymous institutional critique collectives and among political activists. She received her BA in Art Practice and MA in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths College.
Tupoleva is a new performance piece developed by Tatiana Baskakova within the last 6 month and it is dedicated to the exploration of her native Zhukovsky city in Moscow region in Russia, a place known for its aircraft construction bureaus and rocket science institutes.
Originally planned as a “socialist model city for the Moscow area” and developed after the WWII, till late 80s Zhukovsky was a secret closed city for researchers and engineers. The decision to make work about this place now, when this mystique is no longer there is particularly connected to the desire to document, put on a map the new spaces of grassroots resistance emerged in the city in 2011-12, the moments that formed new political subjectivities and communities that are coming together with the will to decide the future of their city and the environment when it is no longer as straight forward.
The name of the performance comes from the name of the street in Zhukovsky that links two key city institutes for aerohydrodynamics and flight research. The road is also the axis that separates residential areas and scientific and industrial facilities. Still motion film made for the performance utilises found documentary footage connected to Tupoleva street in Zhukovsky and a runway that this road leads to. The collision of the factual and cold images by Google Street View cameras and low quality out of focus found footage raise the questions of hierarchy of the images and authenticity and truth in portrayal of violence.
Rather apocalyptic but to-be presented story of a street forms into an alternative visual history of contemporary Russia where ruins of military-industrial complex decompose behind propaganda covers in post-soviet lack of development, corruption and violence of careless regeneration projects. Apart from other histories and the banal everyday details this new work makes references to tragic death of aerobatic team leader happened in 2009, civil resistance to 2012 deforestation, policing, and the arrival of 22 year old Olympic gymnast and future Duma deputy Alina Kabaeva for a photo shoot on one of the jets in 2001.
The still-motion video will be accompanied by some hard tool-generated acoustic music performance by the artist.

Programme of talks and events:

  • Tuesday, 19 th November 19.30 - Lecture by Natalia Murrey

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the quest for the new art. The Proletarian Art Enigma.

  • Wednesday, 27 th November 19.30 - Lecture by professor Christina Lodder

T he Communist Vision of Gustavs Klucis

  • Wednesday, 4 th December 19.30 -Panel discussion withJohn Callow (chair), Jane Powell, Grant Pooke, Tatiana Baskakova, Elena Zaytseva

Two Decades of October Revolution: from Utopian Dreams to Utopian Visions.