This collection of essays deals broadly with the visual and cultural manifestation of utopian aspirations in Russia of the 1920s and 1930s, while examining the before- and after-life of such ideas both geographically and chronologically. The studies document the pluralism of Russian and Soviet culture at this time as well as illuminating various cultural strategies adopted by officialdom. The result serves to complicate the excessively simplistic narrative that avant-garde dreams were suddenly and brutally crushed by Soviet repression and to contest the notion of the avant-garde’s complicity in Stalinism. Naturally, some essays document episodes in the defeat and dismantling of utopian projects, but others trace the persistence of avant-garde ideas and the astonishing tenacity of creative individuals who managed to retain their personal integrity while continuing to serve the cause of Soviet power.
Contributors include: John E. Bowlt, Natalia Budanova, David Crowley, Evgeny Dobrenko, Maria Kokkori, Christina Lodder, Muireann Maguire, Nicholas Bueno de Mesquita, Maria Mileeva, John Milner, Nicoletta Misler, Maria Starkova-Vindman, Brandon Taylor, and Maria Tsantsanoglou.