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Postmodern Propaganda? Semiotics, environment and the historical turn in Soviet design 1972–1985

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Tom Cubbin
Publicerad i Journal of Design History
Volym 30
Nummer/häfte 1
Sidor 16-32
ISSN 0952-4649
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Högskolan för design och konsthantverk
Sidor 16-32
Språk en
Länkar https://doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epw028
Ämneskategorier Design, Konstvetenskap, Historia

Sammanfattning

This article explores how the unlikely discipline of visual propaganda became a lively sphere of experimentation and innovation in Soviet design during the 1970s. At the Experimental and Educational Studio of the Soviet Union of Artists (known as Senezh Studio), designers tasked with improving the quality of visual agitation seized the opportunity to introduce a range of new concepts to Soviet design that included semiotics, environment, and uses of history and memory. Designers at Senezh sought ways to assuage the consequences of prevailing dogma in urban design, which privileged efficacy over local expression, and threatened the existence of historic buildings in Soviet cities. Their projects share much in common with Western postmodern sentiments: resistance to modernist planning, a focus on semantic properties of the environment and a turn to the past. However, I argue that the studio’s continued focus on the use of design as a facilitator of ‘creative humanism’ does not conform to the logic of crisis and subversion implied by the term postmodernism. Instead, these projects suggest an attempt to re-accommodate the ideals of the Soviet 1960s. The waning belief in the idea that a reformed socialism might enable a transition to communism in the near future led designers to seek an alternative expression of the values of the thaw that would otherwise remain a fantasy in an ever-deferred ‘radiant future’.

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