MILITARIZATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE AT MYSTETSKYI ARSENAL
1-2 of 2
From October 20 to November 27 the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Art, Culture and Museum Complex will host a large-scale international exhibition project, Ephemeroids: The ХХ Century in Posters, which will feature a program of lectures on cinema from Dovzhenko Centre, Militarization of Everyday Life: My Enemy Is Your Enemy.
The schedule of the program:
Friday, November 4, 18:00 – Animagitprop – a collection of early Soviet Ukrainian animation. Presented by Anna Onufriienko, film expert of Dovzhenko Centre.
Friday, November 11, 18:00 – Demonization of the Enemy and Military Propaganda. Mutual influence of the text and image in propaganda films:
A Fight for Our Soviet Ukraine (dir. Oleksandr Dovzhenko, 1943);
We Are Going to Germany (dir. Georg Dahlström, Ukrainfilm under occupation, 1943).
Presented by Oleksandr Maievskyi.
Friday, November 18, 18:00 – Toy Wars:
Anniversary Spring Festival in Mittenwald (Plast Film Service, dir. Zynovii Yelyiv, 1947);
Tale of Boy Kibalchysh (dir. Yevhen Sherstobytov, 1964).
Presented by Anna Pohribna.
Friday, November 25, 18:00 – Ephemeral Propaganda – a collection of British and American propaganda cartoons of the 1940s-1950s.
Presented by Oleksandr Teliuk, film expert of Dovzhenko Centre.
In the 1940s the government and businesses in the West began to use the popularity of cartoons for promoting ideas of social insurance, encouraging abidance by traffic regulations and warning against the Communist threat. As a result, characters like “proper citizen” Charlie and the moralizing Jiminy Cricket appeared on the screen, and Disney “stars” Goofy and Donald Duck were for the first time faced with new urban challenges.
Before the advent of television, cinema was one of the main visual media that was used for the purposes of persuasion and propaganda, both in the states that were considered “totalitarian” and in the countries that positioned themselves as democratic.
In 1920, the Soviet Union established Agitprop (Department for Persuasion and Propaganda by the Central Committee of the Communist Party), whose main objective was to educate Soviet people in the spirit of Communism. Its influence in the 1920s spread to all areas of culture.
The collection of short animated works Animagitprop gives an idea of how mass persuasion was used to manage various aspects of Soviet citizens’ lives – from criticism of bureaucracy, absenteeism and capitalism, to promotion of active lifestyle and government loans. At the same time, it demonstrates the innovative visual language, aesthetic and technological experiments in Soviet Ukrainian animation of the period.
The role of cinema in regulating the consciousness of the masses increases significantly during the Second World War. Each of the countries participating in the confrontation produces its own cinematic vision of the same events. As part of the program, the canonical Soviet version will be presented by Oleksandr Dovzhenko’ documentary A Fight for Our Soviet Ukraine (1943), while the opposing view of the invasion of German troops can be seen in the film We Are Going to Germany, made in the same year at Ukrainfilm Studio, but by a German director during the occupation.
Both films use an expressive narrative, the so-called hate-speech, to demonize the enemy, while the footage that the text accompanies is often almost neutral, and it is the text that forms the main message.
The post-war cinema continues the line of militarization, despite the fact that the war seems to be a thing of the past. Different ways of militarization of childhood and adolescence can be seen in the films Boy Kibalchysh (1964) and the documentary newsreel Anniversary Spring Festival in Mittenwald (1947), which was shot by Plast Film Service in the German city of Mittenwald. Both films encourage children and young people to be prepared for a possible enemy attack, since “life is no joke, no tanks”.
Propaganda cinema of the “cold war” period is presented in the program by the collection Ephemeral Propaganda, which includes British and American propaganda cartoons of the 1940s-1950s commissioned by such biased institutions as the UK’s Central Office of Information, the General Electric Corporation, the Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals of the Methodist Church of America, and others.
The dramaturgy of the exhibition Ephemeroids: The ХХ Century in Posters is built around the themes of “man”, “war” and “totalitarianism” – these are simplified blocks that make it easy to build an outline of the history of the twentieth century, one of the many possible keys to its interpretation.
During the year, the Mystetskyi Arsenal curators, with the assistance of their counterparts from more than 10 Ukrainian museums, private collectors and international institutions, have been working to create a thorough visual study of the history of Europe, which will be presented by hundreds of posters from different eras, styles and trends.
“The poster is seen as a mass product, a means of communication, which is capable of forming the visual culture of the society, dictating fashion trends and providing ideological guidance. And though with the arrival and development of new communication media the poster has been losing its communication role, the methods of influencing the mass consciousness have not changed. Propaganda has taken different forms and is using different channels, but remains as a phenomenon in the modern world, too.
So the project and the topics it raises aim to rethink certain historical events, to refute myths and to overcome Ukraine’s Soviet and colonial heritage, which is especially important today in terms of decolonization of Ukrainian history. The project also provides an opportunity to look in retrospect at the changing role of art in a particular historical period,” -says Anastasia Cherednichenko, Candidate of Historical Sciences, a guest co-curator.
Ephemeroids is a term coined by specialists of the Museum of Design in Zurich, which best conveys the essence of the poster: both the transience of the physical existence of this piece of paper and the variability of ideas and stereotypes created with its help.
The history of the XX century is rich in events that shaped the modern world: two world wars, the emergence of totalitarian regimes, the collapse of colonial empires and the formation of new independent states. The Green Revolution of the 1940-1970s, combined with medical advances, led to a rapid growth of population and longer life expectancy.
The twentieth century was the era of technological revolution and a number of breakthrough inventions, which marked a transition from an industrial to an information society. At the same time, the turn of the century became the time of exacerbation of global problems: overpopulation, resource depletion, environmental degradation. All these changes were reflected in the poster as a special type of graphic arts. The project will try to look at the poster as a historical artifact that reflects the established social standards and ideology of the period.