Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands

by John Craig Freeman

“Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands,” by John Craig Freeman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 2012.

“Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands,” by John Craig Freeman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 2012.

Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands is an augmented reality public art project based of the work of Gustav Gustavovich Klucis, including his designs for Screen-radio Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands from 1922.

Klucis was a pioneering member of the Russian Constructivist avant-garde in the early 20th century. As Russian politics degenerated under the Stalin dictatorship in the 1920s and 30s, Klucis came under increasing pressure to devote his artwork to state propaganda. Despite his loyal service to the Communist Party, Klutsis was arrested in Moscow on January 17, 1938. His whereabouts remained a mystery until 1989, when it was discovered that he had been executed by Stalin just after his arrest.

Each of the virtual Orators, Rostrums, and Propaganda Stands display a black and white animation from a contemporary mass uprising; Tank Man near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989; the assassination of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was gunned down in the streets of Tehran during the 2009 Iranian election protests; scenes from Tahrir Square in Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring; and the 2011 Occupy Wall Street uprising. Each of these images are juxtaposed, in montage, with frames from the Odessa Steps scene of Sergei Eisenstein‘s historic Battleship Potemkin film. When touched, the virtual objects play sound from the uprising. The stands call up both the resurgence and nostalgia of current worldwide political idealism as they re-imagine the museum plaza in the function of the public square.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Artists Respond, July 2012.

Kunsthallen Nikolaj, Conversations, August 24-October 21, 2012.

Triennale di Milano, No Need For The Real?, September 2-16, 2012.

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