El Lissitzky. URSS en construction, nº 9, 1933

“As the artist responsible for the Arctic issue, Lissitzky had the task of depicting the higher-order heroism the regime intended the Arctic exploration to represent. To do so he designed a cover that featured a photographic detail of a Soviet ice breaker showing two smokestacks and the mast. This image functioned as a metaphor for the achievements of Soviet technology as well as for the courage and skills of the icebreaker crews. Lissitzky made the image dynamic by tilting it slightly, turning the mast and tge smokestacks into diagonal lines. The smoke billowing from the smokestacks indicates that the icebreaker is in motion, clearing a path through the solid blocks of ice. In a larger sense, the image also functions metaphorically as a representation of the Soviet people who, according to USSR in Construction, were building a new society through heroic and unstinting action against difficult odds (…) Throughout the issue, Lissitzky alternated detailed accounts of particular expeditions, including route maps, with dramatic photographs spread over two pages. The photographs function as more general metaphors of Soviet heroism through their depiction of a single figure surrounded by the snowy vastness of Arctic space (…) Lissitzky ended the Arctic narrative with a special photographic foldout section entitled ‘Through the Soviet Arctic’, which is sequenced like a film as it depicts in detail the activities of the explorers and portrays in closeup the animals of the region as well as the vastness of the landscape (…) Through his project with USSR in Construction, Lissitzky was becoming skilled at blending logos and pathos, information and emotion, in his layouts”.

Victor Margolin. The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1997 (p. 181-183)​

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