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Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s
Author: Yulia Karpova

The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913.

This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians, scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist regimes.

Ariella Azoulay

to show them, one needs the permission of the CICR. Permission depends on the CICR’s approval of any text that an archive user might write to accompany the photographs.5 By controlling the way photographs are described in public, the archive sentries appear authorised to deny citizens the right to freely read their history, show it to others, reinterpret it, share it and imagine another future out of it. With this abuse of power, the archive betrays its vocation as a public institution and as a depository of documents that belong to the public, if only because they

in Image operations
Abstract only
Where are the workers
Lea Bou Khater

– leading to corruption and abuse of power – and discipline ‘that is maintained through the exploitation of primordial cleavages, often relying on balanced rivalry between different ethnic/sectarian groups’. 27 In these conditions, any political reform is perceived as a prospect of ruin for the elite of the coercive apparatus, which also has the advantage of taming the opposition. In turn, patrimonial institutions are less receptive to political change and democratic initiatives. Conversely, a high level of institutionalisation would

in The labour movement in Lebanon
Henry Miller

Crown, corruption in the state, the burden of taxation, government repression and personal abuses of power. However, the pro-reform prints presented these as rooted in imbalances and abuses of the electoral system. The crucial link that connected the two was the rotten boroughs. As these constituencies were controlled by patrons or corporations, their MPs were unrepresentative of and unresponsive to public opinion and the grievances of the people. These MPs provided the parliamentary support for the network of place and patronage that radicals called the ‘Old

in Politics personified
Caroline Turner and Jen Webb

rights. This is not to suggest that artists should make a career of art that protests against human rights abuses; but many artists at some point in their career do use their work to do precisely this: like Goya, who reported on the Peninsular War in The Disasters of War (1810–20), or Picasso, who responded to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War in Guernica (1937), many artists whose work otherwise explores form and colour, or produces images of the environment, will respond in art to a manifest abuse of power. While art cannot necessarily change the world, it can

in Art and human rights
Yulia Karpova

became, as Vera Dunham famously argued, the prerogative and reward of the newly formed middle class.110 The social order was shaken again by the death of Stalin and Khrushchev’s denunciation of his ‘personality cult’ and abuses of power at the XXth Party Congress in 1956. Khrushchev’s reforms, most prominently the full-scale expansion of mass housing and the establishment of cultural exchange with the West, intensified industrialisation, scientific and technical progress and the dramatic growth of cities111 and opened the door to the diversification of taste

in Comradely objects