Remember perestroika? It's back — in an exhibition of political poster art.
"Deconstructing Perestroika: Soviet Ideology and its Discontents," at the Craft and Folk Art Museum through May 6, offers 24 original versions of posters neatly lined up on walls. But the hard-hitting images are unruly blasts from the Soviet past. Mostly made from 1987 to 1991, they reflect the period when Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) produced a storm of artistic free expression.
The hand-painted and collaged poster designs known in Russian as avtorskii plakat sprang from traditional Soviet agitprop, says exhibition curator Ljiljana Grubisic, who oversees collections and public programs at the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War, a nonprofit institution with headquarters in Culver City. But the featured artists expressed their own aesthetic preferences and moral agendas, she says.
In "Our Road to Communism," Aleksei A. Rezaev summarizes Soviet history as a Tower of Babel. Another of his posters depicts Joseph Stalin as a meat grinder, pulverizing his countrymen. And in "AIDS-No," the artist transforms a famous sculptural duo, "Worker and Collective Farm Woman" by Vera Mukhina, into a young couple valiantly fighting the AIDS epidemic. They brandish a hammer and sickle, Soviet-propaganda style, while distributing condoms with their free hands.