Online Workshop Programme

Abstracts & bios (in order of presentation)

Exporting the Polish Village: Zofia Rydet’s Sociological Record in Cold War-Era Publications

Joanna Szupinska (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)

In 1978, at age 67, the photographer Zofia Rydet (1911-97) began work on what would become her defining project: documenting a vast number of households in Poland using black and white photography. She traveled around the countryside, talking her way into village huts so she could capture inhabitants amid their possessions. As part of this project called Sociological Record (1978-97), she produced some 16,000 negatives, which she showed in exhibitions and submitted to magazines. What does Rydet’s archive—which documents the changing cultural landscape of Poland’s final decade of Communist rule—convey about the lives of Poles in those years, about their relation to history and memory?

This paper considers Sociological Record in print, and the complex ways in which the project was received during the moment of its production. Selections appeared in illustrated journals such as Polska, a monthly publication designed for the West and disseminated in 16 languages, and Projekt, a bimonthly visual arts magazine published in 5 languages (see images). These publications used photography to promote a positive vision of Poland for export. But Rydet’s photographs, similar in composition and printed in grids, disclose the variability of daily life experienced throughout the country. Though the Communist propaganda of the time promoted a population living in harmonious, secular equality, Rydet’s photographs reveal a spectrum of material wealth and poverty, differing relationships to Catholicism, and unsettled gender roles. Thus, Sociological Record demonstrates how photography can subvert governmental narratives while ostensibly working within them, in the process unraveling late Communism’s claims from the inside.

Joanna Szupinska is senior curator at the California Museum of Photography (CMP) at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), where she has been a curator since 2013. She is also a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is writing a dissertation on the life and work of Polish photographer Zofia Rydet. She has contributed essays to exhibition catalogues and other books, and has published numerous texts in periodicals such as Art Journal, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Art Papers, and Mousse.

Necro—aesthetic as tool of propaganda in Polish press between 1945-1948

Karolina Rosiejka (University of The Arts in Poznan, Poland)

The presentation is concerned with the use of dead body images to involve the public in political discussions about historical events and, in a wider context, political systems through the use of a particular type of necro-aesthetic photographic constructions and corpse-visualizing descriptions published in the polish press between 1945 and 1948 and used for propaganda purposes. The material analyzed comes from daily nationwide press: Ilustrowany Kurier Polski [The Illustrated Polish Courier] popular in western Poland and Trybuna Ludu [People’s Tribune] popular in the East, whilst both titles were controlled by communist officials that led reborn polish state. Chosen period was a formative moment of new afterwar reality, when strong propaganda actions were taken with the full strength to establish successfully the Iron Curtain between East and West. Polish examples of visual propaganda can serve as models to achieve the research goal described below.

Pictures and depictions of dead bodies are often present on the journals’ pages in given period and present bodies of German war criminals, victims of war and Polish anti-communist guerilla. The aim of the presentation is to analyse the way of constructing the image of the enemies of reborn polish state and to explain the visually effective dimension of the discussed materials. As a result, the study will describe the attitude of communist system towards the dead body as a tool of propaganda and manipulation of the public opinion. The study will be based on a hermeneutic and discursive method of image analysis within a theoretical framework inspired by Alexey Yurchak’s aesthetic theory of politics of the dead body and W.J.T Mitchell’s theory of image agency.

Yurchak’s necro-aesthetics will help to recognise the political and apolitical dimension of the dead body and its consequences for the authorities. The theory will help to distinguish the aesthetic conditions that need to be met by a depiction of a corpse so that it can be treated as political or, conversely, without any political impact. The concept of visual agency developed by Mitchell will be used, in turn, to identify three possibilities of theorising agency, which will be related to the analysed photographs and visualizing descriptions of dead bodies. Each of the analysed works will be described in a way that will reveal tensions between elements of the composition and their relationship to the reality outside the image.

Karolina Rosiejka is based at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań at Faculty of Art Education and Curatorial Studies, interested in various relationships between visual sources and socio-political discourses. In my practice as art historian, I am applying various methods of art history, visual culture studies and critical discourse analysis to the historical sources from the 20th century. In particularly, I am interested in the visuality of the dead body, its necro-aesthetic, actions related to the presentation of the dead body and discursive activities around it. Currently I am working on project entitled Dead bodies of the enemies of the system. A necro-aesthetic analysis of Eastern European propaganda materials from the 1940s and 1950s in connection with Visegrad Scholarships at Open Society Archive in Budapest.

Between Counterculture and Techno-Utopianism: Galaksija magazine as a liminal pace in 1970s Yugoslavia

Rujana Rebernjak (University of the Arts London, UK)

Founded in 1972, Galaksija was a radical Yugoslav magazine dedicated to the ‘popularisation of science’. Published in Belgrade, it occupied a liminal space in between 1960s countercultures and socialist techno-utopian belief in the power of science and technology to transform human society. Looking towards the West, Galaksija was very much in-line with contemporary countercultural publications such as The Whole Earth Catalog or Radical Software, mirroring in its content their unique blend of alternative lifestyles, environmentalism and burgeoning cyberculture. And yet, published in the socialist East, Galaksija’s rhetoric and visual language were firmly embedded within the Yugoslav socialist discourse centred around workers’ self-management.

As such, the pages of Galaksija formed a liminal space, one marked by contradictions and tensions that allow us to question the peculiarities of the Yugoslav socialist system in the context of the Cold War. What does the magazine’s unique blend of alternative, countercultural discourse and hard science tell us about Yugoslav everyday life and culture in the 1970s? What does its embrace of the environmental movement or cyberculture reveal about Yugoslavia’s place in the global Cold War context? What may be the legacy of Galaksija in marginalisation of the authority of science seen in the post-socialist space?

In this presentation, I will explore such issues by examining the material and visual rhetoric of Galaksija: its graphic layout, choice of imagery, visual and textual narrative. Quirky yet rational, high-tech yet playful, the magazine’s aim of popularising science was shaped by its materiality and visual language. Equally, it was that very visual and material language that allowed Galaksija to legitimise countercultural discourses amidst the wider Yugoslav social sphere. Adopting an object-based approach to the study of the printed page, I hope this analysis will allow me to unpick the complex discursive registers through which Galaksija sought to negotiate wider cultural, political and social tensions emerging in the late Cold War period.

Dr Rujana Rebernjak is a design historian researching, teaching and disseminating knowledge about post-war architectural and design practice. Her research focuses, in particular, on histories of Eastern Europe under state socialism and the materialisation of socialist ideals in design and architectural form. She teaches design history at the London College of Communication where she is the Contextual and Theoretical Studies Leader in the Design School. Her first monograph, titled Designing Self-Management: Objects and Spaces of Everyday Life in Post-War Yugoslavia will be published next year. She holds a PhD in History of Design from the Royal College of Art/V&A.

Visual exchange and the problem of censorship in the USSR during the Cold War

Ekaterina Vikulina (Russian State University for the Humanities Moscow, Russia)

The paper focuses on the visual exchange between the USSR and European countries during the Cold War period. Its focus is on intercultural connections in this time, the role of visual information, the scope of censorship, and the conflicts and intersections between what was permitted and what was forbidden. The present study is based on visual publications in Soviet illustrative magazines such as Sovetskoe Foto [Soviet Photo], Ogoniok [Little Flame], Sovetskii Sojuz [Soviet Union], Krestianka [Woman farmer], Rabotnitsa [Woman worker], Sovetskaia zhenshina [Soviet Woman] and others.

The special attention is given to the role of the Western visual culture which penetrated the “Iron Curtain” during the Thaw. The inaccessibility of information in the USSR is often exaggerated. A lot of magazines (even from capitalistic countries) were available in libraries and by subscription in the USSR. Particularly fruitful was the cooperation with the countries of the socialist camp. This paper argues that there were double standards that existed in censorship in the USSR during the period. Photographic censorship was multilevel and heterogeneous; its scope varied depending on the place of publication and exhibition of the work.  The requirements for journals and magazines published in the USSR were different than the standards in the Eastern Bloc countries or even in Soviet Baltic republics, which possessed more freedom. Soviet censorship narrowed the scope of what was representationally acceptable, especially in All-Union periodicals.

The visual information is more ambivalent and elusive. That’s why it is also more difficult to be censored. In this research images that penetrated country from the West are considered as important factors of liberal changes during late socialism. These images in periodicals became a kind of “counterculture” that pushed the limits of what was permissible in both stylistic and thematic terms.

Ekaterina Vikulina is an associate professor, Department of Cultural Practices and Communications, Faculty of Cultural Studies at Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies (from the Russian State University) and also degrees from the Russian Academy of Arts (I.E. Repin Institute) and from European University in St. Petersburg. She is a member of the Art Critics and Art Historians Association (AIS), Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies, The International Association for the Humanities (MAG). Her research interests lay in the field of cultural and visual studies, media studies, history and theory of photography, the phenomenon of the Cold War and Soviet Thaw. Her articles have been published in such academic journals and books series as Cahiers du monde russe, Baltic Worlds, Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media and others. Besides this she works as critic in Russian and Latvian art magazines.

The Space Race Politics of the Page

Sven Grampp (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)

The so-called Space Race was a competition between the USA and the USSR with the main goal to dominate first outer space during the Cold War. This race was not only technological, military, or political, but was also and perhaps above all a competition of transnational, even global propaganda or more moderately formulated: The Space Race was particularly present in reporting and images from space missions on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I would like to take this situation as the starting point for my contribution. I am particularly interested in how newspapers and magazines in ‘East’ and ‘West’ report on the space missions of the ‘others’, on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I will concentrate on the layout of perception of the images in the newspapers and magazines. This seems particularly revealing to me because it is here that the relationship between the different achievements and space missions is repeatedly balanced.

Three examples from three countries will illustrate three different strategies of these relations. First, I turn to various front pages of Czechoslovak newspapers and their coverage of the Apollo 11 moon mission. What is striking about this is that when there are pictures of US space missions, this is almost always coupled with a photograph showing a socialist achievement on earth (be it the use of tractors or a hydroelectric power plant). As a result the achievements of the ‘East’ and the ‘West’ are balanced on a visual level. The second example is the coverage of Gagarin’s space flight in 1961 in the US magazine Life. There, Gagarin’s return to Moscow is first presented in a long photo series, followed by the US astronauts in the car park in front of the NASA headquarters in Huston. Here the pictures are set in relation to each other by visual design and body language of the cosmonauts and then the astronauts. The last example is the Soviet magazine Ogonjok. The so-called Apollo-Soyuz Test Project from 1975 is about the first space cooperation between the USA and the USSR. The reporting takes place over several issues of the magazine. In this process, ‘East’ and ‘West’ actors are visually set in relation to each other in very different ways.

With the examples mentioned, I would like to make a case for the thesis that the space race in outer space has its counterpart as a picture space race on the pages of newspapers and magazines – precisely in the spatial relation of pictures. Here, it is not, or at least not, primary binary relations that are established, but very diverse relations that are not so much expressed textually-semantically, but on the visual level of the spatial design of the magazine and newspaper pages.

Sven Grampp, is assistant professor (Akademischer Oberrat) at the Institute for Theater and Media Studies at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Main Research interests: media theory, seriality, space race. Selected publications: Politische Medienikonografie. Eine Einführung zur Illustration (2022, in print) [Political media iconography. An Introduction to Illustration]; media analysis. A Media Studies Introduction]; (ed.) Cold Moon Rising. Die Berichterstattung über die erste bemannte Mondlandung als Globalgeschichte in Zeiten des Kalten Krieges (2021) [Cold Moon Rising. The coverage of the first manned moon landing as a global history in the Cold War era].

Visualizing Women at Work: Idealization and Realism in Japanese Women’s
Magazines in the early Cold War

Jana Aresin (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)

Japan’s role in the Cold War is often remembered as a swift development from defeated enemy to loyal US ally, fully incorporated into the Western block and embracing the US model of democratic capitalism. This simplified narrative leaves out the complexity and ambiguity of Japan’s position in the transition period between the post-WWII moment and the beginning of the Cold War, during which intellectuals, activists, politicians, and the general public had to navigate Japan’s new role and identity in the re-forming world order – a process that was far from a linear move towards democratic capitalism. It involved not only an embrace of economic integration and growth promised by the US model but also an upsurge in labour activism, a popularity of leftist ideas and the discussion of alliances with the Soviet Union and China. This moment of ambiguity can be seen clearly in women’s periodicals of the early Cold War. Navigating women’s role in the new postwar democratic society, and particularly women’s role in the workplace, obtained a symbolic representative function for the nation’s direction as a whole. This discursive moment involved many contradictions: the narrative of women’s liberation under democratic capitalism was accompanied by idealized images of ‘modern’ emancipated women – often marked through Western clothes and hairstyles – yet simultaneously incorporated conservative norms of domestic femininity that dominated US women’s magazines at the dawn of the Cold War. At the same time, left-leaning periodicals in Japan depicted a different version of women as workers, drawing from the aesthetics of social realism. In this paper, I will examine the different visual narratives of Japan’s political and economic identity that were competing in the postwar public sphere by analyzing depictions of working women in photographs and illustrations in commercial and small leftist women’s periodicals while reflecting on the aesthetic influence of US magazines and advertising. 

Jana Aresin is a Ph.D. candidate at the American Studies Institute of FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. I am currently writing my dissertation on representations of democracy and consumerism in Cold War Japanese and US women’s magazines. In the summer term 2022 I am a visiting research fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. 

Same pages, different politics? Reading the Political Alternatives of Cold War Italy through the Lens of Illustrated Children Magazines, 1950-1960

Guilio Argenio (University of Padova, Venice and Verona, Italy)

As Odd Arne Westad famously synthesized, the postwar fight between Communism and Capitalism could be read as the competition between two conflicting notions of modernity. Even if Italy was a minor player in the context of Cold War, this deep division was still operational in the country during the 1950s. The conservative center party Democrazia Cristiana (DC), a fundamental ally for the United States, was in fact opposed by the continent biggest communist party, the Partito Comunista d’Italia (PCI), in an ongoing ideological and communicative struggle based also on disparate conceptions of development and technological progress.

Even on the terrain of children education and entertainment the contrast was stark, with the Gioventù Italiana di Azione Cattolica, catholic and close in spirit to the DC, fighting a strong legal and propagandistic battle against the communist and socialist Associazione Pionieri d’Italia. Despite all the clashes though, the Pioniere and Il Vittorioso, the two famous children illustrated periodicals associated with the aforementioned youth associations, were strikingly similar in terms of visual strategies, material composition and layouts. One was slightly bigger than the other, but the number of pages was mostly the same, and so was the general content of the periodicals, which housed together pedagogical features, letters department, sports stories and comics.

One particular solution that was common to both the periodicals, was the spectacular illustration of modern technological wonders, such as trains, planes, dams and satellites. Many times these depictions were colorful and eye-catching, rich with hidden details, and they could well represent a peculiar Cold War taste for marvelous machinery. On the other hand, the similarities in visual presentation hinted at radically diverse ideas about science and its role in society. To throughly comprehend the role of these recurring features, I propose a comparison between the two periodicals that considers them as cultural artifacts at same time strongly tied to the confrontations of Cold War, but also ambiguous in their relationship with the bipolar order. Following this route it will be possible to better understand the choices of artists and editors and to attribute meaning and directions to both the differences and affinities in the two journal visual representations of science, progress and technology.

Guilio Argenio just submitted his final thesis to graduate as a PhD student of Contemporary history in the joint doctoral program between the Universities of Padova, Venice Ca’ Foscari and Verona. His main research interests include the history of mass culture and the relationships between media, narratives and the social changes of the 1950s and 1960s. These themes are at the heart of his thesis, supervised by prof. Marco Fincardi, in which he tried to investigate how modernity and the future were represented in various illustrated periodicals. Popular magazines were also at the center of his Master’s thesis, wrote under the supervision of Alberto Mario Banti and Arnaldo Testi at the University of Pisa, and which was devoted to the the investigation of the historical significance of science fiction journals.

Special Presentation of the “Protest in Photobook” collection

Luciano Zuccaccia, is a photographer, a collector and a curator based in Italy.
The project he will present is the online collection of photobooks

Vietnam Pictorial and The Colors of Socialist Futurity

Thy Phu (University of Toronto, Canada)

With the waning of French colonialism and the rise of U.S. imperialism, the architects of the Hanoi-based Democratic Republic of Vietnam sought to create a socialist vision of a prosperous future which, at a time of division and escalating violence, was still to come. The North Vietnamese sought to call forth a future of technological progress, economic prosperity, and cultural renewal, and illustrated magazines played an integral, though little understood, role in this process. This presentation explores the significance of Vietnam Pictorial, the communist state’s most prominent illustrated magazine, situating this publication within the context of the global Cold War, and examining its function in forming a vision of futurity as part of an overall effort to develop and disseminate socialist ways of seeing to contest visualities of capitalism. The illustrated magazine drew on color photography to bring into focus a vision of nationhood, on the heels of victory over French colonial tyranny, and in defiance of the U.S. and its colonizing aspirations. With the inclusion of color on covers and, occasionally, within the magazine itself, Vietnam Pictorial enhanced its cultural mission, projecting a socialist future that could be imaginatively realized through its fanciful coloration.  

Thy Phu is a Distinguished Professor of Race, Diaspora and Visual Justice at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture and Warring Visions: Photography and Vietnam. She has also co-edited Feeling Photography, Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada, and the forthcoming, Cold War Camera. Currently, she serves as co-editor of the open-access peer-reviewed journal, Trans Asia Photography. 

Cold War Containment and Postmodern Doubt, Central America and the Printed Page

Erina Duganne (Texas State University, USA)

When Ronald Reagan took office on January 20, 1981, he immediately began to implement his foreign policy of combating the spread of so-called Soviet-backed communism throughout the globe. Central America occupied a central position in this Cold War-inspired foreign policy. But though Reagan sought to convince the U.S. public that the FMLN in El Salvador and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were working together as part of a larger global communist scheme¾fronted by the U.S.S.R. via Cuba¾that posed a significant threat to U.S. national security, contemporary coverage by Newsweek shows significant doubt about the purported truthfulness of these claims. This paper shows the unlikely embrace of a “postmodern” criticality by writers at Newsweek, who used text and images within the journal’s pages to cast doubt on the evidence provided by Reagan administration to justify their interventionist policies in Central America. But while this criticality by a mainstream journal such as Newsweek is exemplary, this paper also questions the extent to which this doubt in fact dislodged the Cold War ideological framework of containment already put in place by the Reagan administration’s propaganda machine. In so doing, the paper addresses both the potentialities and limitations of Newsweek’s “oppositional” postmodernism as well as asks what alternate frameworks were employed, especially by independent art journals, in response to U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s. 

Erina Duganne is Professor of Art History at Texas State University. Her research and writing address three interrelated areas: artist activism and solidarity practices; documentary photography and its histories; and race and its representation. She is co-author of Global Photography: A Critical History, author of The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography, and co-editor of Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain. Her current research project on Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America consists of two parts: A recently opened exhibition at the Tufts University Art Galleries and an in-progress book manuscript supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

‘A good slick picture magazine’: US visual diplomacy in the Cold War and the appeal to African audiences

Darren Newbury (University of Brighton, UK)

In 1956, the United States Information Agency (USIA) published a glossy pamphlet, entitled ‘An African Looks at the American Negro’. It was produced in several editions, with extensive print runs for Southeast Asia as well as distribution to field posts in Africa. In fact, the content displayed no special interest in the African of its title, who simply served as a device to frame a narrative of integration and progress for African Americans, his blackness an unstated guarantee of the authenticity of the portrayal for its African and Asian readers. The pamphlet was little more than the repackaging of a familiar message, now ostensibly for a non-Western audience. Yet, it can be taken as the starting point for the evolution of a visual media program addressed to audiences in Africa, one that would expand rapidly through the late 1950s and early 1960s, as a vast swathe of the continent achieved independence.

Although early publications such as the English-language American Outlook (Ghana) or the French-language Perspectives Americaines (Democratic Republic of the Congo) were produced only on low quality newsprint, they adopted a highly photographic design and layout, often with pull-out photo-essays suitable for use as posters. Yet, USIA understood its visual output as part of a project of development and modernisation and anticipated that over time African audiences would become more discerning and critical viewers demanding ever more sophisticated visual products. This perspective underpinned, then director, Edward Murrow’s call for a ‘slick picture magazine’; its readers, he insisted, were to be left in no doubt that they held in their hands, ‘an exceptional publication, designed for an exceptional audience’. The result was Topic, a full colour illustrated magazine targeted at African students and the continent’s educated elites, launched in 1965.

In little more than a decade, US visual media output in Africa was transformed from an often amateur and local affair to an international operation producing high-quality visual products that would not have looked out of place in the US. This paper reflects on the development of this program and what it reveals about US understanding of and efforts to connect with African audiences, with particular attention to the perceived importance of visual and material quality in the appeal to African readers, an aspect that was central to debates within the agency.

Darren Newbury is Professor of Photographic History at the University of Brighton. He is the author of Defiant Images: Photography and Apartheid South Africa (2009) and People Apart: 1950s Cape Town Revisited. Photographs by Bryan Heseltine (2013); and co-editor of The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies (2015) with Christopher Morton, and Women and Photography in Africa: Creative Practices and Feminist Challenges (2021) with Lorena Rizzo and Kylie Thomas. In 2020 he received the Royal Anthropological Institute Photography Committee Award for his contribution to the study of photography and anthropology. His current research is concerned with the role of photography in US public diplomacy in Africa during the Cold War and decolonisation.

Aesthetics of Destruction and Reconstruction in East German and Polish Illustrated Magazines (1965-1980)

Noemi Quagliati (Deutsches Museum München, Germany)

Trauma and the need to cope with the catastrophe of WWII are palpable when leafing through post-war Polish and East German illustrated magazines. Even though reconstruction is central in these popular publications, the reference to the urban war destruction is photographically shown or more generally implied as a benchmark to assess economic and cultural regeneration within the new socialist system. In the context of the Cold War, the narration of Nazis crimes also served the Soviet propaganda in blaming West Germany, and the Western Bloc in general, to maintain war murderers within statal and military apparatuses. Soviet communication strategies aimed at portraying the USSR as the only power that was able to defeat National Socialism, while Americans were often equated with the Nazis in post-war Soviet visual culture. 

Even if this narrative can be identified in magazines circulating in various socialist states, investigating the national aesthetic characters of these publications means taking into account the graphic design traditions and visual identities of the different Soviet satellites. Moreover, it is also essential to consider the very contrasting points of view from which the Second World War had been experienced (as in the case of East Germany and Poland). This paper analyzes diverse sensibilities within two satellite states by comparing Polish and East German publications, like the German Freie Welt and Polish Perspektywy, among others. In particular, this article explores similarities and differences in how these two countries reported the same tragic event more than twentieth years after it occurred: the bombing of the Polish town of Frampol by the Luftwaffe in September 1939. 

Noemi Quagliati is an art and photo historian specialized in landscape and aerial iconography, nature photography, and war representations. She is interested in the circulation of images and image infrastructures in German, American, Italian, and Polish visual cultures. After having studied at Brera Academy in Milan and Istanbul Bilgi University, she earned a Ph.D. from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, working on the project “Militarized Visualities: Photographed Landscape in WWI Germany.” Noemi has been a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley and at the Research Institute of the Deutsches Museum, where she is collaborating on modernizing the museum’s historical aviation section by investigating the topic of aerial photography.

Hungarian sun, Czechoslovak dream, Swiss grid: Graphic design across Cold War borders

Jennifer McHugh (University of Southampton, UK)

The ways in which designers and their ideas circulated during the Cold War can be traced through printed images and recognised today for the quiet connections that were visually speaking volumes. Devising seemingly neutral strategies of graphic communication, designers implemented typographic tools and symbolic references that addressed tensions across ideological borders through composition and format.

This presentation explores aesthetic and methodological approaches to a ‘politics of the page’ across a selection of periodicals from Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the 1950s and 60s, ones which traversed geographic bipolar narratives and offer alternative mappings for design. Beginning with an examination of the aesthetic continuities across periodicals promoting agriculture and industry, scientific text was contrasted with avant-garde photomontage and layout techniques. Followed by magazines announcing the Czechoslovak Pavilion at Brussels Expo 58: where official design was used in diplomatic presentation, individual designers queried the supranational ‘dream’ with the unexpected.  Embedded in symbolic forms, designs expressed a unique and distinctly local graphic lexicon, understood through metaphor and visual meaning. The periodicals highlighted this graphic style as a freedom of form, lightness and movement, one which began to blur meanings into another regional application in film adverts: Surrealism. Closing in Hungary, where a small group of designers set out a stylistic uniformity more closely aligned with Swiss graphics and layout, intentionally distancing themselves from the visual rhetoric of Socialist aesthetics whilst giving new typographic shape to local cultural craft. 

Jennifer McHugh has recently completed her PhD at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, which investigated posters and design production in postwar East Central Europe and contemporary archive practice. Her research interests include graphic design, printing workshops, geographies, cultural identities and visual presentation of knowledge. With an academic background in migration research, cultural heritage and linguistics, Jennifer has worked in areas of documentation and archives of graphics and design, museums and identity politics.

Organizers & Chair bios

Vincent Fröhlich studied comparative literature and Islamic studies. He wrote his doctoral thesis about serial narration in different media. He is now heading a research project on illustrated film magazines («Seeing Film between the Lines») at the Institute of Media Studies in Marburg. This project is part of the DFG-funded research group “Journal Literature”. Recent publications about conspiracy theories, the circulation and aesthetics of film images, the layout of illustrated magazines and fan protests against the discontinuation of TV series.

Mary Ikoniadou is a Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design at the Leeds School of Arts. Her research interests lie in the intersection of visual culture, design, and cultural history during the Cold War. She is currently preparing her first monograph on the entanglement of Cold War aesthetics and politics from the margins. Her work has been published by Routledge, the Humanities journal, the Freie Universitat Berlin, and Manchester University Press. 

Ileana L. Selejan is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University College London, where she participates in the European Research Council (ERC) funded project “Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination”. She is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and was a Research Fellow at the Decolonising Arts Institute at UAL until recently.

Olga Shevchenko teaches and does research at Williams College on the topics of memory, photography, culture and consumption in post-socialist Russia. She is currently working on a collaborative research project entitled “Snapshot Histories: Family Photography and Generational Memories of Socialism in Russia”. Shevchenko published extensively on topics like “Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow”. She edited an volume on memory and photography and published on “the poltics of nostalgia” which is of course quite fitting for our workshop topic. Last but not least, Olga Shevchenko is part of the “Cold War Camera” project.

Zeina Maasri is Senior Lecturer and Degree Leader of the interdis­ciplinary BA in War and Conflict at the University of Brighton (UK) and a former faculty member at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon). Her recent monograph Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties (Cambridge University Press, 2020) is the co- winner of the 2021 British- Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize. She is the author Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (IB Tauris, 2009) and curator of related travelling exhibitions and online archival. Zeina is the instigator and co-editor of an edited volume, University of Manchester press, titled Transnational solidarity; Anticolonialism in the global sixties.

Andrés Mario Zervigón (Rutgers, USA)

Andrés Mario Zervigón is professor at the department of Art History at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. He is in expert on the history of photography and published on John Heartfield, on “photography and Germany” and on rotogravur. We are very eagerly awaiting his forthcoming publications on Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung and his conference “Print Matters: Histories of Photography in Illustrated Magazines”.


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