At the Jewish Museum, Soviet Photography Is Anti-Trump

THE DAILY PIC: Imaging a progressive world that has passed.


THE DAILY PIC (#1429): This lovely 1928 image by Arkady Shaikhet, called Assembling the Globe at Moscow Telegraph Central Station, is in the wonderful, under-the-radar show of early Soviet photography at the Jewish Museum in New York. The modern stylishness of its pictures is a given, so what really struck me was their celebration of working people. That was pretty much everywhere at the time, in Russia and the West, and has now been almost entirely replaced by our adoration of the Trumps and oligarchs of this world.

Don’t start badgering me, please, about the harm that communist lies actually did to workers and labor; that is incontrovertibly true. My point is that there was once at least a notion that society should be directed toward improving the lives of  average citizens; now I think we’ve lost even that notion, at least as a dominant cultural value.

The shame of communism is that it didn’t, and probably couldn’t, achieve the goals it trumpeted;  most often, it undermined them. But at least it had those goals. (Collection of Alex Lachmann; © Estate of Arkady Shaikhet, courtesy of Nailya Alexander Gallery)

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