Veranstaltungsort: Ludwig Boltzmann-Institut für Europäische Geschichte und Öffentlichkeit, Nußdorfer Straße 64, 4. Stock
Vortragende: Professor Susan E. Reid
Titel: Pictures in the Late Soviet Home
The paper explores how the Soviet home, beginning with the mass provision of separate apartments in the late 1950s, became a site for the display of works of art and craft. Artists and aestheticians began to press for affordable art to be made available to ordinary citizens, both so that the ‘masses’ could live surrounded by beauty in their everyday lives (and thereby be brought closer to communist consciousness), and because this provided an alternative income stream to fund artists’ production. The possibility of an art market, albeit state controlled, would also free them to some extent from the strict stylistic and thematic norms and genre requirements of the sole official ‘method’ of Socialist Realism.
Drawing on contemporary documents and on oral history and material culture, the paper will also consider popular practices and consumption. What genres and kinds of art did people choose to hang on their walls, what did they do with it, and what did it mean to them? What values did they place on whether art works were amateur or professional, originals or reproductions? The paper will argue that the home as a site of consumption of art challenged the norms of Socialist Realism and the elevated public purpose art was supposed to have under state socialism. Appropriating and combining elements of the common visual culture in a kind of bricolage, the use of pictorial decoration in the home often broke the rules of aesthetic experts and muddied hierarchical distinctions between ‘high’ art and mass culture.
Susan E. Reid is Professor of Russian Visual Culture in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Sheffield. She has published widely on painting, visual and material culture, gender and consumption in the Soviet Union, especially in the 1950s–60s, and has edited a number of volumes, including, with David Crowley, Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (Northwestern University Press, 2010), as well as a number of articles in international peer-reviewed journals. She is currently completing a book on everyday aesthetics, material culture and consumption in the Khrushchev-era standard apartment, provisionally entitled Khrushchev Modern: Making Oneself at Home in the Soviet 1960s.