MONOCULTURE – Socialist Realism


Socialist Realism was an artistic phenomenon and 'creative method' of the Soviet Union. Introduced as a doctrine of the single creative method in 1934 during the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, it was applied to all spheres of artistic endeavour. Often characterised simply as a style, it hardly fits into such category due to the obvious lack of a clearly articulated artistic language, or rather, the consistent erasure of any formal stylistic features. The relation of Soviet Realism to previous realistic traditions in art and to reality itself is also complicated. Aimed to present an analysis of “reality in its revolutionary development” and establish “a culture of the masses that had yet to be created”, it was primarily oriented not toward the Soviet reality of the time, but the bright Socialist future. This utopian aspiration and the belief in the transformative potential of art and strong collective spirit, makes Socialist Realism a total and totalitarian aesthetical-political project, or, as put by theorist Boris Groys – Stalin’s gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art). Deeply rooted in communist ideology, Socialist Realism was not simply its product, but the very means of production. This makes it an example of a unique propagandist strategy.

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