Camera eyes
The worker photography movement and the New Vision in America
in Watching the red dawn
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In contrast to the prolific commentary in the United States on Soviet cinematic montage, there was negligible coverage of Russian still photography. There was some consonance and correspondence in ‘worker photography’ movement, which included both American and Russian photographers. Yet, in less tangible ways there were corollaries between American and Soviet photographers, such as in the strong aesthetic and thematic consonance of their photographs, especially where the subject was industrial or urban. In this regard, American and Russian leftist modernists were variants of the ‘New Vision’, the apex of which was the 1929 Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart. A further point of intersection involved the visits of American photographers to the USSR, in particular Margaret Bourke-White, who produced a book called Eyes on Russia. In this chapter I consider all of these strands in relation to debates on photographic veracity, especially in terms of photography’s role in political propaganda.

Watching the red dawn

The American avant-garde and the Soviet Union


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