Apr 20 2012: Fifteen Colour Photographs from a Souvenir Volume Documenting Socialist Czechoslovakia (CSSR, c.1957)

A girl releases a dove in the name of ‘joy and beauty’. Clean, new buildings rise in historic cities. Athletes and dancers perform mass synchronised routines on a sports field. Gleaming motorcycles promote the latest in industrial design while the steelworks and plants that enabled their construction are dynamically photographed, the camera granting factories and power stations the grandeur of ancient temples…it could all be promotional material put together on behalf of the London 2012 Olympic commitee, but in fact comes from a 1957 publication extolling the achievements of Communist Czechoslovakia, a decade before the brief flourishing and violent suppression of the Prague Spring. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned, about the nature of propaganda and its persistence across different contexts here, the relationship between political and commercial species of the same essential virus and its familiar visual tropes…

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