Posters cast a critical eye Russian Revolution

DOX has an exhibition of new posters by international designers

It has been 100 years since the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art has oi showing modern posters looking back at the event and its impact. The exhibition is called 1917–2017.

The posters were made for the Moscow Global Biennale of Graphic Design Golden Bee when curator Sergei Serov invited graphic designers from around the world to reflect on the 1917 revolution. DOX has posters from this event selected by Czech graphic designer Aleš Najbrt. The posters will be on display at DOX until Jan. 8, 2018.

Most of the posters are critical of the revolution and its impact. Only 4 percent of the posters from Russia and 8 percent from foreign countries looked at it positively.

“As we can see, the number of romantic views of the revolution in our homeland [of Russia] is twice as low as abroad, but there are also surprisingly few,” Sergei Serov said in a press release.

The majority of Russian and foreign graphic artists in their posters equate the 1917 Russian Revolution with ideas like an apocalypse, violence, lies, deception, blood, loss of liberty, suffering, and death. Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin was portrayed as a monster or criminal. One poster by Lithuanian artist Maryia Hilep depicted Lenin with lasers shooting out of his eyes, reminiscent of a 1950s science fiction film poster. A group of Ukrainian artists working under the name Alcofribas showed Lenin as a wild-eyed caricature baring his teeth. Hungarian artist Istvan Orosz shows Lenin with his arms out in front of him, like a sleepwalker or zombie.

Russian artist Anton Batishev made a composite face of current Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Lenin, divided down the middle. A similar idea was used by Russian artist Evgeny Moryakov, who morphed the two faces together.

Several posters have pop culture references, such Lenin making a selfie with a smartphone in a poster by Russian artist Inna Novikova.

Others were more mundane, featuring apolitical designs based on the numbers 1917 and 2017, or graphic designs with red stars or a hammer and sickle.

The aim of the original project for the Golden Bee in Moscow was to create an open platform for views about the Russian Revolution. Over 70 graphic designers from 30 countries accepted the invitation to participate in the project. In addition, more than 1,500 works from 50 countries were submitted as part of an open call.

From these, 100 works were selected to form an exhibition at the Moscow Biennale in 2018. A wider selection of 500 posters was made for curators around the world to prepare their own exhibitions.

From the group of 500, Aleš Najbrt, selected 80 posters from 17 countries for the DOX exhibition. The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Kulturus festival of contemporary Russian culture.

Aside from Prague, exhibitions are planned in Germany, Britain, Montenegro and the US.

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