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USSR in Construction / Graphic form in the early Soviet Union

2007-02-04 to 2007-04-22

The motto “a new society requires a new art” underlined the artist’s strong position in the Soviet Revolution. The exhibition USSR in Construction / Graphic form in the early Soviet Union takes a closer look at Russian artistic avant-garde and the pioneering time of the visual chronicle magazine and photojournalism’s pioneering times in the Soviet Union.

The legendary Soviet image magazine USSR in Construction (SSSR na stroike) was a state-funded magazine whose purpose was to talk about the work of developing, industrialising and modernising the Soviet Union. Founded in 1929, its ambition was to be a new kind of illustrated magazine, with both a domestic and international audience. In addition to the Russian edition, USSR in Construction was published in four languages – English, French, German and Spanish. It was also widely distributed in the Western world during the 1930s. The significance of photographs in the journal’s expression was assessed to be especially valuable in a still largely illiterate and poor Soviet.

Dramatic and contrasting images, presented in a dynamic layout, described the new communist society. Prominent photographers and artists such as Max Alpert and Nikolai Troshin contributed with first-class visual material. Equally important was the innovative and experimental graphic design, where image and text interacted in entirely new ways. Photomontage, collages and photo foldouts over several pages testified to the ambition to create a new journalistic aesthetic.

Each issue of the magazine had a specific theme, such as mining, the iron industry or the production of food. And even themes such as new Soviet film or the poet Mayakovsky could also be found there. With a special designer – often artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitsky, Varvara Stepanova or someone else from the Russian artistic avant-garde – each issue was also a unique artistic creation. 

The exhibition at Bildmuseet includes original copies of the magazine, original photographs and reproductions of magazine pages. USSR in Construction / Graphic form in the early Soviet Union” is produced by the Fotomuseet in Sundsvall and Petter Österlund. For the exhibition, there is a catalogue with text by Erika Wolf and Rune Hassner, published by the Fotomuseet in Sundsvall.