Sunday, March 04, 2007

State Art

Graphic: Illustration from Russian Government site on family issues.

I have always been interested in the way in which art has been used as a propaganda weapon and as an expression of state triumphalism.

As a child I wrote away to the Soviet Embassy in Canberra and asked them to send me material on the USSR. I am not sure how much I believed of the glowing stories of collectivist success, but I found the graphic expression interesting.

Lexcen recently pointed me towards an interesting site,, presenting photos and accompanying short posts on Russia. I know far too little about modern Russia, so I found the site very interesting.

While browsing, I found a story beginning with the above illustration. It is apparently from a Russian Government site on family and family issues.

When I first looked at the illustration I looked at it in the context of the demographic time bomb now facing Russia. I was also struck by the stylistic links to the Communist styles of the past.

Reading on, the post carries a second graphic, a piece from Nazi Germany promoting the Nazi concept of race and family. Now the Nazi and Soviet propaganda machines did, I think, influence each other. However, I was surprised to find such an exact example today of copying from the past.


Lexcen said...

Scary observation. I've been thinking about George Orwell's 1984 and how much the images of the government using the media to control public opinion in the book parallels what is happening today. It's because I don't watch television on a regular basis that the comparison struck me as obvious. The bombardment of government advertising telling us what we should do and not do (vis the water crisis ads) stand out. Then looking back I remembered the ads promoting GST (breaking the chains). What's the difference between propaganda and public information?

Jim Belshaw said...

Lexcen, I am sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.

You are quite right to ask the question about the difference between propoganda and public information. It all comes back to the question of whether the intent is to inform or influence.