Exhibition: "Fighting Pencil" vs. the Bureaucrat, Satirical Posters from the Soviet Union


Thursday, March 7, 2019, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Repeats every day until Sun Apr 21 2019


Fisher Family Commons, CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge St., Cambridge

By the 1960’s and 1970’s, outrageous practices in Soviet bureaucracy flourished. Poor planning, endless paper-pushing, redundancy and shirking, bribery, embezzlement, phony reporting, and cover-ups at all levels of the centralized economy had become the norm. The results included shoddy construction, inefficient farming methods, empty store shelves, environmental pollution, and a decidedly uncivil civil service.

To combat these ills, the government enlisted the help of cartoonists and poets from the Fighting Pencil, a Leningrad-based artists’ collective. Borrowing from the folk tradition of the satirical woodcut (lubók), the artists imaginatively combined image and text to lampoon villainous officialdom with irony and sharp bite.

This exhibition presents a selection of their arresting “public service announcements.”

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