Art and the Factory

CFP: Visual culture and industry in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

Call for Papers

Visual Culture and the Factory: Artistic Practice, Artistic Production, and Industry in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union ca 1800 to the Present

Whether promoted as inspiration for and as a site of artistic production, as a training ground for artists, or as a mode of artistic practice that challenged modernist notions of individuality and originality, the factory has played a central role in art-making of the modern era. While enormous scholarly attention has been devoted to the cultural implications of interactions between artists and factories in American, English, and western European art, only scattered answers to these questions have been offered for artistic culture in Russia and Eastern Europe of the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Growing out of a recent conference panel, this proposed anthology will explore the multiple encounters between Russian, Soviet, and East-European visual cultures and the factory. The projected collection of essays seeks to investigate shifting historical definitions and implications of factory production, including the location of artistic orauthorial identity in a workshop setting; the careers of serf and folk artists; mass-production of visual culture (prints, photographs, domestic furnishings, clothing, etc.); the use of technologicaldevelopments to disseminate handcrafted objects; and the representation of the factory itself as a commentary on the nature of labor. Alternatively, this volume will address the ways in which artistic initiatives such as Abramtsevo reacted against mass production and industry's presence in visual culture by promoting handwork, handicrafts and folk arts-efforts that were themselves ultimately co-opted by factory concepts of mass production and distribution.

We are interested as well in essays which deal with the function of Russian estate workshops, whose serf artists were often trained in specialized areas, as "factories" for the production of decorative arts objects; the impact of the abolition of serfdom on the production of visual culture; the establishment of public or private museum collections as an aid in design or industrial education; critical debates on how the taste of workers as both producers and consumers could be improved; the role of the technical and crafts schools in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; and post-Stalinist Soviet artistic culture. We welcome submissions that consider these and other questions from a variety of disciplines and methodological perspectives.

Please send letters of interest, consisting of a 500-word proposal and CV, to each of the addresses below by April 15, 2000. Materials may be submitted by e-mail. Those selected for inclusion will be asked to provide fuller descriptions of their projects in mid-June before the final determination is made.


Addresses for correspondence:

Karen Kettering
Hillwood Museum
4155 Linnean Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-686-8505 x8533
Fax: 202-966-7846

Jane Friedman
6533 N. Greenview Ave, #1N
Chicago, IL 60626
Tel: 773-338-4954

Posted: 14 February 2000