23.04.16 – Lecture: When People were Becoming “Cadres”

23.04.2016 – 18:00

When people become “cadres”

Labor images in Photo Albums from the Collections of the Polytechnical Museum.
The Years of the First Five-Year Plans 1928-1941

Lecture by Anna A. Kotomina – PhD, Polytechnic Museum Researcher, Moscow, Russia

The lecture tells about peculiarities of labor picturing in photo albums of the first five-year plans, kept in the collection of Politechnical museum in Moscow. Photo albums, that formed the collection, were produced by soviet economic subjects – departments or enterprises in 1929-1940. They mostly contain pictures that tell about the success of the industrialization in the creation of new and modernization of old factories, in spreading “socialistic way of life” among workers. Most part of albums represent “tribute for socialism”, the same as famous “gifts to leaders”. Subjects of some photos and the order of their combination in the album at first sight repeat the same parade canon. 
Contemporary scientists have many times commented “suppression in expressions of the body” of the Soviet people in 1930-s movies, “poses clumsiness”, limited gestures nature, “unambiguity of standards comprehension”, in photos of 1930-s. 

Albums contents let us compare images of men, women, children, fulfilling different types of work at large and small industries in different years of industrialization. Photos in albums were not only connected to each other or to other photos, but to instructional, didactic or ideological texts – texts of programs, resolutions, commands, orders, instructions. This allows us talk about the fact albums collections represent industrialization not only economically, but politically. Analysis of the connection between the images of working people and texts, will let in our opinion understand the meaning of people poses and images, interpreted by us as specific for the society of pre-war years,  in a new way.