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Review: AgitProp: Soviet Propaganda, 1905-1945 at SMU Art Gallery

Nazis getting poked in the eye will always be satisfying.

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N. Dolgorukov_This is Our Russian Katyusha - Hitler Sings for the Rest
  • N. Dolgorukov_This is Our Russian Katyusha - Hitler Sings for the Rest

AgitProp: Soviet Propaganda, 1905-1945
Through July 30
Saint Mary's University Art Gallery Loyola Building, 5865 Gorsebrook Avenue

The collection of prints, primarily reprinted in the 1970s and originally collected by a local professor of Russian history, showcases Soviet propaganda from the Russian revolution to WWII, with a curatorial bent highlighting the role of women in State propaganda in AgitProp: Soviet Propaganda, 1905-1945, curated by Emily Davidson and Nicole Marcoux.

In the smaller adjoining room, contemporary artist Gillian Dykeman uses a spin-class self-help video (the pop music emanating from which stands in charming contrast to the Russian revolutionary anthems played in the larger gallery), constructivist athletic gear and protest canvases animate many of the sentiments in the posters.

In a political climate leaning ever closer to fascism, a sample of the visual history of the left is refreshing, though today's viewers knowledge of the atrocities committed under 20th century Soviet rule will certainly taint the patriotic glow of many works. Images of a Nazi being poked in the eye with a giant red apostrophe (Nikolai Dolgorukov's Victory Day, 1945), however, are still incredibly satisfying.

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