Traitor

traitor-7

 

2011, 8 posters 59,4 × 84,1 cm

Distrust of Intelligentsia, OPEN Gallery, Bratislava, 2. – 22. 9. 2011, curated by Tereza Stejskalová and Pavel Sterec

 

The work is based on combination of two types of quotation – textual and pictorial. I combined the excerpt from a text by Walter Benjamin with copies of drawings from posters by Vladimir Lebedev.

In the 1934 article “The Author as Producer” Walter Benjamin explained his conception of the role of progressive writer and intellectual in general. According to Benjamin, it is not sufficient only to describe the class struggle from the safe distance secured by the position of cultural specialist in system of production. It is necessary for the revolutionary intellectual to get involved directly in the class struggle through giving his expert skills at disposal of proletariat. In the same time, thus he becomes a traitor of the bourgeois class, which gave him his origin and the privilege of education. Benjamin wanted himself to be an intellectual of this kind, through whom masses could speak. But the German masses gave their fate into hands of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, while Benjamin was forced to go to exile to escape its terror.

Vladimir Lebedev was one of the avant-garde artists who made so called “ROSTA windows” during the Civil War of 1919–1921. The “ROSTA windows” were agitprop posters displayed in showcases of empty shops, through which the new-born Soviet power could directly address the people on the streets of Russian cities. Lebedev succeed in creating organic mixture of the propagandist function of poster and the language of forms borrowed from Cubo-Futurism or Suprematism. Nevertheless, in thirties he became, together with other artists, the target of official manhunt against the formalistic tendencies in art, which forced him to give up his modernist style and to commit himself to work in conventionally realistic spirit for the rest of his live.