2017/1–2 (26)

Special Issue ‘Art and Ideologies’
Edited by Virve Sarapik and Andreas Ventsel

Ideology and Art. Virve Sarapik, Andreas Ventsel


Aleš Erjavec.
Ideology as World-View and Two Early Avant-Garde Movements

In this essay, the author focuses on some major ideologies interpreted as worldviews and on their roles in two well-known early avant-garde movements, Italian futurism and Russian constructivism. He starts with a discussion of ideology and observes that all avant-gardes were to some extent influenced by various ideologies. He suggests that in the two mentioned cases the main ideologies were anarchism, nationalism, Marxism and fascism. In the author’s view, all such designations are only provisional and partial; due to their intertwining and changeability, they possess only limited theoretical and methodological value. In spite of differences, the Italian and the Russian movements also possessed numerous shared features. The author then shows how overalls came to be projects for these two avant-garde movements: the tuta (in Italy) and ‘production clothes’ (prozodezhda) in Russia. He then describes both projects and argues that they share a similar starting point. He furthermore notes the disintegration or transformation of some of the world-views studied. He claims that anarchism had the greatest ideological influence on the early avant-garde movements.

Jaak Tomberg. The Awakening of the Dystopian Hero: On the Ambiguity in the Utopian Form

My article compares the narrative attributes of classic early modern literary utopias (by More, Bacon and Campanella) to the shape they take in well-known 20th century literary dystopias (by Orwell, Huxley and Zamyatin). On a formal level, I conclude that only a minor difference separates the two: the awakening of a critical/narrative subject completely reconfigures a formerly static and utopian space of collective happiness into a narrative, historical, dystopian space of individual struggle.

Stella Pelše. Latvian National Art after 1934: Ideology, Practice and Evaluation

This article focuses on the ideological underpinnings, accomplishments and assessments of art under the local authoritarian regime (1934–1940). Unity, nationalism, the cult of the leader and peasant life were promoted, denouncing modernist influences in favour of classical traditions and ethnographic heritage. The last six years of Latvia’s independence saw both major state commissioned art projects and individual contributions matching the prescribed tenets to some extent, while most critics maintained that true Latvian national art was still in the making. This ideal, which could be termed nationalist realism, remained desirable, but not mandatory in comparison with some neighbouring totalitarian countries.

Pillė Veljataga. The Ideas of Modern Catholicism and Lithuanian Art Criticism in the 1930s

This article analyses the diffusion of the ideology of modern Catholicism and its effect on aesthetics and art criticism in Lithuania in the 1930s. The young generation of Lithuanian Catholic aestheticians proclaimed that art was not only intended to serve as an image of a dehumanised civilisation but also as an effort to prevail over its negative impact. They adapted the New Humanism ideology of French modern Catholicism as a programmatic guideline for contemporary art. The article reveals that although the theoretical art conceptions of the young generation of Lithuanian Catholic art critics were similar, their interpretations of Lithuanian art were rather different.

Liisa Kaljula. Estonian Sots Art! Appropriation of Soviet Visual Culture in the Early Work of Raul Rajangu

This paper will look at the Estonian artist Raul Rajangu’s early series Soviet Midnight (Nõukogude öö, 1981–1982) as an Estonian version of Eastern European sots art. It will argue that Rajangu in the early 1980s, just like Russian sots art artists in the 1970s and 1980s, developed a keen interest in one of the highly ideological domains of the Soviet Union: the visual sphere. This interest was manifested in his playful appropriation of the iconic images of Soviet visual culture, such as reproductions of Lenin, party members reviewing a parade, the Soviet governmental car Chaika and the vacuum cleaner Raketa. Together with certain early works of the group SOUP 69 artists Andres Tolts and Leonhard Lapin, these images allow us to talk about Estonian sots art. However, some differences between political art practices in the centre and on the periphery of the Soviet Union will also be outlined under late socialism.

CHRONICLE 1. I – 31. XII 2016