Cold War - Hot Culture. The International Festival of Russian Arts and Culture.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, November 19-21, 2000
Organizer and Project Director: Prof. Dmitry Shalin (Dept. of Sociology)

Opening and Concluding Statements
Program. Panels. Participants
Art Exibition


For the official Soviet propaganda, America has always
been an
embodiment of ills plaguing capitalist society. For many
artists, on the other hand, the United States has been the
source of
profound fascination and ambivalence. Drawn to its
promise of freedom,
Russian artists felt put off by its lifestyle alien to Russian
spirituality. Oddly enough, Russian nonconformist artists
learned a
good deal from their official counterparts, from the artists
Alexander Zhitomirsky, whose superb collages
demonized and glamorized
America at the same time.

The present exhibition vividly communicates this
fascination with
anti-American art in the nostalgic references to the
political icons of
the bygone era. This appropriation of the recent past was
mediated by
the new Western ideas which began to make their way to
Russia following
the path-breaking 1959 US Exhibition in Moscow.
Abstract Expressionism
and Minimalism were among the key influences that had
shaped the
unofficial art scene in the Soviet Union, the former taken
as a symbol
of unrestrained freedom and the latter as an embodiment
nonideological pure form.

In the 1970's, the cross between Soviet propaganda art
and critically
appropriated Pop Art produced a movement known as
Sots Art. Its
followers played on the curious resemblance between
ubiquitous Soviet
icons and American advertisement. Russian emigre
artists sought to
render explicit the hidden parallels between Soviet
propaganda art and
American consumerism with its relentless cheerfulness
and cliche-ridden
language. This artistic gesture that preserves the artist's
position as
an outsider offers Russian emigres artists a perfect
vantage point from
which they can comment on alienation, consumerism,
technology-obsessed society of today while retaining their
distance and mixing their sarcasm with a hefty dosage of

The visual art exhibit opens up with 27 collages by
Zhitomirsky, a student of Alexander Rodchenko, whose
Cold War era
photomontages picturing America were a familiar sight in
the Soviet
Union.s Unofficial Russian artists used these collages as
an ironic
offset in their own work. Zhitomirsky's political
photography allows
American audiences to sample Soviet propaganda art
and thus better
understand the visual sources of countercultural artistic
movements such
as Sots Art.


Yuri Albert
Vagrich Bakhchanyan
Farid Bogdalov
Grisha Bruskin
Mikhail Chernyshov
Peggy Jarrell Kaplan
Alexander Kosolapov
Leonid Lamm
Rostislav Lebedev
Sergei Mironenko
Komar & Melamid
Vladimir Paperny
Leonid Pinchevsky
Leonid Sokov
Oleg Vasiliev
Alexander Yulikov
Alexander Zhitomirsky

*The exhibition curator is Yekaterina Dyogot, Pro Arte Institute, St. Petersburg.  The show is part of the International Festival of Russian Art and Culture that is sponsored by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Nevada Humanities Committee, Nevada Arts Council, UNLV Barrick Museum, UNLV College of Liberal Arts, and literary magazines Znamia and Zvezda.  The exhibition opens up at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 21, 2000, at the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum.  For information, contact Dr. Dmitri Shalin, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154.  Tel. 702-895-0259, fax. 7