Old entries. What is this? Links. Mail.


I'm not certain why, but I'm very amused and interested by these Soviet and Communist Chinese "propaganda" posters lately. I say "propaganda" with scare quotes because many of these, especially the Soviet ones, are really more like public service announcements. Even those admonishing drunkards and pregnant mothers have ever so slight a totalitarian edge to them, though. (Perhaps the same is true of our own such posters.)

The Chinese posters are far more disturbing, especially the smiling, happy workers. Also the commentary, offered alongside (cf. the page on images of women), about the deliberate attempt to project a "masculinized" image of femininity: muscular, breastless women with short hair and male clothing, slaving away on the communal farm.

Probably, what does it for me in both instances, is that these posters now seem incredibly surrealistic, and I always get a kick out of surrealism. Especially when it's a smiling Mao standing astride a blazing sunset. To compare, I'm now on the lookout for contemporaneous U.S. propaganda posters; for some reason I have the impression of them being much less amusing.

However: a couple of weeks ago, while studying in the library, I was struck by something in one of the Grant Wood murals. The farm details - down to the field of plants - are more precise than the people working in the fields. I found this very creepy - I suppose it could be interpreted as some sort of comment on the good, honest simplicity of the people (gag), or on their relative importance (i.e., not very, compared to all the people they're helping to feed - again, gag). These might not stick under more careful scrutiny, but boy, I'll never look the same way at those murals again.


Jon aptly notes

This looks like so many crappy 50s/60s era paintings of Jesus and Disciples, or Jesus and [Aryan] Children which populate so many small-town protestant churches. I'd like to get this poster and put it up right next to such a Jesus painting. That would be, like, art.