Julia Vaingurt: Wonderlands of the Avant-Garde: Technology and the Arts in Russia of the 1920s (2013)

7 July 2014, dusan

“In postrevolutionary Russia, as the Soviet government was initiating a program of rapid industrialization, avant-garde artists declared their intent to serve the nascent state and to transform life in accordance with their aesthetic designs. In spite of their professed utilitarianism, however, most avant-gardists created works that can hardly be regarded as practical instruments of societal transformation. Exploring this paradox, Vaingurt claims that the artists’ investment of technology with aesthetics prevented their creations from being fully conscripted into the arsenal of political hegemony. The purposes of avant-garde technologies, she contends, are contemplative rather than constructive. Looking at Meyerhold’s theater, Tatlin’s and Khlebnikov’s architectural designs, Mayakovsky’s writings, and other works from the period, Vaingurt offers an innovative reading of an exceptionally complex moment in the formation of Soviet culture.”

Publisher Northwestern University Press, 2013
SRLT series
ISBN 0810128942, 9780810128941
322 pages
via Sorin

Review: Boris Dralyuk (NEP, 2013), Tim Harte (Slavic Review, 2014).



See also the science-fiction film Aelita, Queen of Mars, dir. Yakov Protazanov, 1924, 111 min, based on Tolstoy’s novel.

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