Nikolai Troshin. URSS en construction, nº 7-8, 1934

“Put another way, as the USSR in Construction grew and evolved against the political background of arrests, starvation, terror and astronomical death-tolls in the USSR, the journal’s own artistic radicalism seemed to connect with the radicalism of the regime itself. To take but one example, Nikolai Troshin’s 1934 focus on ‘‘Physical Culture and Sports in the USSR’’ emphasises key martial, youth, and collective health tropes across the issue. In the work of the comparatively conservative Troshin – at least in the comparison with fellow contributors El and Es Lissitsky and a second married duo, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova – the content attempts to merge with constructivist aesthetics; that is, artistic form. Perhaps only in this way can we understand how ‘walking with gasmasks’ and ‘shooting’ can feature between images of ‘gymnastics’ and ‘cycling’ –as suggested by the text on the inside cover of this issue:‘‘We must rear a new generation of workers, healthy, cheerful, capable of increasing the power of the Soviet land and defending it with their might and main against attacks from the enemy’’, Stalin; ‘‘It is difficult to imagine anything more beautiful, inspiring and rhythmical than the annual physical – culture parades on the squares of the Soviet cities. Frequently hundreds of thousands participate in these parades’’; and ‘‘This is what the healthy young class, the victorious proletariat, the builder of socialism, looks like’’. This example helps to show that, in the Constructivists’ most avant-garde efforts on behalf of the USSR in Construction, a synthesis of art and politics, form and content, may be seen to emerge through this modern, technocratic form of propaganda, one perhaps only fully understood in the etymological, sacralising sense of the word.”

Matthew Feldman. "A Case Study in Soviet Political Religion: Modernism,The USSR in Construction, and Stalin’s Russia”. Religion Compass, vol. 5, nº 11, 2011 (p. 693)

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