LOS ANGELES, CA.-
In collaboration with The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War, the Craft and Folk Art Museum
is presenting Deconstructing Perestroika, the first major exhibition in the United States of hand-painted Soviet era political posters that were inspired by a new government policy of transparency in the former Soviet Union. Organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the former super powers demise in December 1991, this exhibition highlights some of the key political and cultural shifts that defined the era and ultimately led to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Curated by Dr. Ljiljana Grubisic, Director of Collections and Public Programs at The Wende Museum, the exhibition showcases thirty original, hand-painted poster designs created by thirteen artists as visual responses to Mikhail Gorbachevs transformative policies of Glasnost and Perestroika of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Starting in 1985, Gorbachevs policies of Glasnost, or openness, started to liberalize Soviet society by allowing taboos to be questioned and, in the process, galvanizing people and encouraging them to talk and think freely for the first time. During this period, East-West hostilities started to evaporate and dissidents began to return from labor camps and exile Gorbachevs parallel attempts to reform the economy through Perestroika, or re-structuring, perished like all other previous attempts.
Deconstructing Perestroika illustrates the tradition of hand-painted poster design, known in Russian as avtorskii plakat. This art form can be viewed as an outgrowth of the traditional Soviet agitprop. The thirty works of art are unified thematically by a caustic satire that was made possible by Glasnosts very insistence on freedom of speech. Yet this razor sharp critique also stems from the deeply rooted tendency of the Russian psyche to view political and cultural endeavors through the prism of irony in order to subvert, reject, or give new meaning to an official ideology or previous work of art.