Curators Cristina Cuevas-Wolf (The Wende Museum), Stephen Bittner (Sonoma State University), and Choi Chatterjee (CSU, Los Angeles)
This exhibition tells the story of progressive ideas in the modern world through visual artifacts drawn from premier cultural institutions in California: Getty Research Institute, The Wende Museum of the Cold War, and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Highlights from the exhibition can be viewed virtually at revolutionizingtheworld.wordpress.com
Revolutionizing the World? The Russian Revolution at its Centenary starts with a display of new media used to communicate ideas about equality, solidarity, and individualism that evolved during the years of the Russian Revolution. It has two visual trajectories: one composed of artistic representations of 1917 and its subsequent commemorations in artifacts and ephemera designed for its 50th, 60th, and 70th anniversaries. This part of the exhibition ends with examples of sots-art and conceptual art from the period of glasnost and perestroika in the 1980s when dissident Soviet artists used their ferocious imaginations to challenge the communist state. They satirized communist leaders such as Lenin, as well as the aging conventions of socialist realism that compelled Soviet artists to produce state-sponsored propaganda.
The second part of the exhibition represents the political impact of the Russian Revolution on the visual culture of the non-communist world. While the original ideals of communism lost meaning within the Soviet Union due to censorship and repression, they played an important role in the development of global political movements. Feminists, youth groups, labor movements, environmentalists, anti-imperialists, and advocates of a global multi-racial future mined the canon of the Russian avant-garde together with socialism, communism, and anarchism in search of ideas for a different world. Posters from United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America on the themes of solidarity, women, education, anti-imperialism, and youth testify to the global percolation of these ideals and their relevance to progressive politics today.