Negotiating New (His)stories of Photography

By Rosler, Martha | Art Journal, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview

Negotiating New (His)stories of Photography


Rosler, Martha, Art Journal


Russian photography today, like all of Russian culture, is in a transitional state. The end of Communism has meant not so much a social revolution as a devolution, a falling away of a regime rather than an aggressive imposition of a new direction. Photography is still viewed as a minor art, both blessed and cursed by the fact that photography as an art form was not supported by the Soviet state. "Official culture" did, however, promote photojournalism, to pictorialize, personalize, and heroize Soviet achievements in life and labor. Now, ex-Soviet photographers are free to develop independently. Many are familiar with Western photography and are influenced by it in varying degrees depending partly on their level of education and access to foreign materials. Many deny such influences out of a desire for personal originality or national authenticity-desires that may or may not conflict with that for international recognition and reward. I have written about this transitional period in an earlier, unpublished essay.(1) The present essay is not a theoretical intervention as such but a report written after my return from a photography symposium and exhibition in Moscow.

Photography as an art form has recently gained some small degree of official and semiofficial support in Russia. This is so partly because photography can be counted on to provide a readily comprehensible and easily displayed medium of expression, as a carrier of aesthetic values or as a self-effacing ideological utterance. New historiographies are useful in depicting Russian history, to which artistic and intellectual history is integral, as a ruptured continuum in the process of reuniting its severed threads. This "normalization" is the constant theme: how to rebuild a civilization based in-as Gorbachev baldly put it, skirting the edge of desperation--"our common European home." In case the point needs underlining, a national identity is a ticket to economic stabilization as much as to national pride. But there are undercurrents to this rewriting of the national identity--now partly fathomed outside Russia's borders--that are neither so rational nor so attractive to the industrial "West." Especially in a culture in which art has been regarded as integral to the fabric of national life, we should expect to find a relationship to ideological and political issues, even if that relationship is eschewal. Efforts at de-Sovietification have included resurrections of earlier Russian styles and attitudes, including mystical and psychic strains of literary and aesthetic production, alongside sharp attention to successful Western styles--the latest incarnation of the dispute between Slavophiles and westward-looking intellectuals. One also finds a retardataire relationship to issues of gender and difference. The search for new personal identities in the context of new national ones--Homo non-Sovieticus--has been a critical factor in the intensive regendering of post-Soviet cultural expressions and social expectations. Attempts to reassert and celebrate Russianness, which itself must be seen as part of an intention to join an international community, have covered a spectrum from notions of sexual expression to cultural work.

In support of photography, the Russian Ministry of Culture has begun a new photography acquisition program and also provides some assistance (little of it financial) to exhibitions and events, as do some foreign groups. thin a day or two of each other in early January 1994, several photography exhibitions and events were held in Moscow. The Dutch-organized World Press Photo exhibition, brought in with financial support from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, opened at Cinema Museum, and the photographs and photomontages produced in the interwar period by German modernist photographer Anton Stankowski were shown at A3 Gallery with German state sponsorship. Opening across town was an exhibition, organized by Joseph Bakshtein and St. Petersburg curator Yekaterina Andreyeva, of photographs and videotapes by influential St.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Negotiating New (His)stories of Photography
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.