When: Thursday 10 November, 13–17hr
Where: OMHP (oudemanhuispoort) E2.01
Building Soviet socialism was the first attempt in the history of modernity to put utopian theory into large-scale practice. From the onset, this experiment was based on the participation of the masses. The concept of “the collective” was introduced as a means of coordination and management of broad infrastructures across the fields of economics, education, housing and elsewhere. Collectivism not only served as an organizational tool on a pragamatic level, but it also served as an ideological formula. Very soon after 1918, the radical climate of the immediate post-revolutionary period compelled visual artists, writers and architects to vigorously promote the idea of the collective aesthetically, as well as re-imagine the terms of social relationality and, in turn, develop new forms of cultural interaction.
With this as its backdrop, the Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality workshop, moves between textual and filmic materials spanning the early Soviet and late GDR periods, inviting participants to think with Altmann about the shifts/ruptures in artistic understandings of and relations to collectivism and “the collective” as they were entangled with ideologies of industrialization and technology. Prior to the workshop, participants will receive a selection of texts and excerpts from a range of writers, including Karl Popper, Anton S. Makarenko and Susanne Altmann, which will be engaged alongside a selection of films. Beginning with excerpts from Soviet films produced in 1920s, the workshop tracks from that early optimism up through the rigidification of such narratives in the decades following WWII and Stalin’s death – both in the Soviet Union, as well as in the visual language of socialist East Germany during the 1970s and 80s. The directors and artists under discussion are: David Maryan, Lev Kuleshov/ Aleksandr Rodchenko, Kira Muratova, Jürgen Böttcher, Evelyn Richter and the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group (Künstlerinnengruppe Erfurt).
Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality is open to 20 participants. All participants are asked to commit to the full four-hour workshop, as well as to give at least one hour outside of the workshop to engage with the reading materials. Interested individuals are asked to submit a 250-word motivational statement, which describes their interest in the workshop. Please submit your statement to email@example.com no later than 23 October 23.59hr CET. Statements will be reviewed and applicants notified by 28 October.
Image: Stills from Das Leben in der Hand (1931, 96 min). Directed by Dawid Marjan and distributed by Gosfilmofond.
The Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality workshop forms part of Susanne Altmann’s research project When Technology Was Female, a commission of If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution curated by Megan Hoetger as part of the If I Can’t Dance Edition IX – Bodies and Technologies biennial programme. For more on Altmann’s project, visit: https://ificantdance.org/artist/susanne-altmann/.