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"Red Venus: From Alexandra Kollontai to Pussy Riot"

Date: 10/11/2013

Time: 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Location: 125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

Cost: Free


A panel discussion in conjunction with the current exhibit, "Women in Soviet Art," at the Museum of Russian Art. Panelists will address the complex issues raised by the show--concerning the position and iconography of women in the Soviet Union and Russia over 75 years, feminist responses from Alexandra Kollontai to Pussy Riot, folklore and everyday life. Panelists include a founding member of the group that published samizdat feminist journals in the 1970s and 1980s, Natalya Malachowskaja (Salzburg), as well as Soviet and Eastern European dress scholar Katalin Medvedev (University of Georgia), TMORA curator Maria Zavialova, Slavic studies professor Helena Goscilo (OSU), and history professor Elizabeth Jones Hemenway (Loyola, Chicago). Moderated by Professor of English Paula Rabinowitz. The panel participants will also conduct a walk-through of the exhibition 11 am, Saturday, October 12, at TMORA. Co-presenters: TMORA, CLA, Global Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Slavic Languages & Literatures, Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, History, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, Art History, English, and German, Scandinavian, & Dutch.

Below are abstracts of the individual panelist's presentations:

"Representing Women in Official Soviet Art, 1950s- 1980s" (Maria Zavialova, The Museum of Russian Art)
This talk focuses on the representations of female subjects in post-war Soviet painting, produced by members of the Soviet Artists Union and hence known as official art. Paintings by Union members both responded to the demands of censorship and entered a dialogue with the official ideology in an attempt to renegotiate some of the terms of Soviet citizenship. The material for the talk will be drawn from the exhibition Women in Soviet Art currently on display in The Museum of Russian Art.

"A Week Like Any Other: The 'Emancipation' of Soviet Women" (Elizabeth Jones Hemenway, Loyola University Chicago)
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 promised to free Russian women from the legal restrictions and obligations that had tied them to the family and limited their activities in society for centuries. Women received the right to vote in 1917; the 1918 Family Code re-wrote the legal relationships between family members; activists promoted new living facilities where housework and childcare would be communally shared; throughout the 1920s and 1930s millions of women gained an education and employment outside the home. Despite these initiatives by the Soviet regime, its legal structures and symbolic language combined to create a vision of society in which men took on leadership roles and women served as subordinates.

"Graphically Female: Scripted Roles of Soviet Womanhood" (Helena Goscilo, The Ohio State University)
In their depictions of women, Soviet posters worked hand in hand with the Soviet state, especially after 1931 when they came under Party control, and ultimately censorship, to promulgate prescribed images of Soviet womanhood. Helena Goscilo’s talk will present these graphic images and provide insight into the changing official notions of what Soviet women should embody and represent.

"Early Soviet Dress: Ideology and Practice" (Katalin Medvedev, University of Georgia)
This talk describes various attempts to create a new socialist dress in the Soviet Union that was devoid of the commercial and cultural traits of Western bourgeois dress. After 1917, the work of constructivist designers aimed to express the Bolshevik values of rationality, gender-neutrality, classlessness, functionality and comfort through innovative geometric cuts and design motifs. However, after Stalin came to power, radical and modernist design ideas were replaced by the idealization of a conservative, overdecorated, flowery aesthetics. After Stalin’s death, women began to find ways to express a measure of individuality in their appearance.

"The Goddess of Love in the Country of Victorious Socialism" (Natalia Malachowskaja, Salzburg, Austria)
This talk focuses on Malachowskaja's writing career in the early years of the Brezhnev era as well as her participation in the first post-war feminist Samizdat publication, Women and Russia, and Maria at a later date. The historical account is interspersed with musings on the issues of feminism prompted by her active participation in the revival of feminist discourse in the late Soviet period, whose rise she contends was a reaction to the Soviet system’s negative attitudes towards female reproductive powers rather than gender inequality.


  • Name: Terri Sutton
  • E-mail: sutt0063@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-1528
  • Sponsored by: English, College of Liberal Arts, Institute for Advanced Study, Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, History, Art History, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, Slavic Languages & Literatures, German, Scandinavian & Dutch, Global Studies

More information: http://tmora.org/exhibition/women-soviet-art/

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Terri Sutton at sutt0063@umn.edu or 612-626-1528.

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