Photography from the USSR: Soviet Life, Russian Reality

This exhibition presents over fifty photographs from the four final decades of the Soviet era. Drawn from the collection of Thomas Werner, professor and director of the BFA program at New York’s Parsons New School for Design, these black-and-white images show Soviet citizens in social, educational, and familial settings that both conformed to the dictates of the regime and reflected their own versions of reality.

Exhibition review in the Star Tribune

Images of food stores, daycare centers, schools, and construction sites showing citizens at work and leisure provide an insider’s view of the realities of Soviet life under socialism.  The photographs are one of a kind prints made from the original negatives, reflecting a multiplicity of lifestyles in the seemingly uniform environment.  Life under socialism provided extensive material for photographers.  From becoming a young pioneer to bathing in a communal men’s bathhouse, Soviet Life, Russian Reality provokes a dissection of stereotypes in the presentation of Soviet realities.

The exhibition also includes amateur photographs and an intriguing selection of artifacts such as Communist Party membership booklets, Army ration books, and Party certificates and commendations.  Soviet Life, Russian Reality closes September 23.

Featured image:

Sailors on a Whaling Vessel, Photographed by Oleg Maksimou in 1967, gelatin silver print. Collection of Thomas Werner, New York.

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