Recommended: Cold War Camera

Cold War Camera is an exciting new collaborative project that explores photography’s role in mediating the Cold War. Under the supervision of professors Thy Phu and Andrea Noble, it aims to go beyond the standard iconography of the mushroom cloud, surveillance footage and news reports to explore the wider visual culture of the Cold War as captured on camera. The project focuses on transnational connections … Continue reading Recommended: Cold War Camera

Spot the Spomenik

Across the seven countries that once made up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the landscape is occasionally punctuated by a strange, futuristic statue. This is a ‘spomenik’, a term which translates in the languages of the Balkan Peninsula as ‘monument’. In the 1960s and ’70s, during the reign of Yugoslavia’s ‘benevolent dictator’ Tito, groups of sculptors and architects worked together to construct these formidable objects. They were created both … Continue reading Spot the Spomenik

Photographing Presidential Untruths

The Iran-Contra Affair – also known as ‘Irangate’ – was perhaps the worst moment of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. In November 1986 it was first revealed that senior officials of Reagan’s administration had been secretly facilitating the sale of arms to Iran while the country was subject to an arms embargo. Using Israel as a middle-man to ship the weapons, the arrangement was intended to bring about the … Continue reading Photographing Presidential Untruths

Photographing the Afghan Girl

The brutal and complex Cold War conflict in Afghanistan began with the Soviet intervention in December 1979 and culminated when the withdrawal of all Soviet troops was completed on 15 February 1989. As the war raged in 1984, American photojournalist Steve McCurry travelled to the region on an assignment from National Geographic. In the Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, McCurry photographed a young woman … Continue reading Photographing the Afghan Girl

Exhibition of the Month: Damage Control

The spectre of Cold War looms large in the Hirshhorn’s latest exhibition, Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950. The start date of its chronology points to an initial focus on the trauma of destruction in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and anxieties about the strange new world that rose from its ashes. Initial feelings of panic in the face of human fragility, … Continue reading Exhibition of the Month: Damage Control

Recommended Read: A Conspiracy of Images

John J. Curley. A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and the Art of the Cold War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. In the early Cold War, grainy photographic images were published daily in newspapers and magazines to warn an increasingly fearful Western public of the dangers of the conflict. A new book considers how this media imagery penetrated the work of visual artists, focusing … Continue reading Recommended Read: A Conspiracy of Images

Photographing Albania’s Cold War Bunkers

Following 6 long years of occupation during World War II, first by Fascist Italy and subsequently by Nazi Germany, Albania finally declared its independence with the establishment of the People’s Republic of Albania on 11 January 1946. As with many Eastern Bloc nations struggling to overcome wartime deprivation, the country turned to Communism and Enver Hoxha has installed as leader. His rule would last over … Continue reading Photographing Albania’s Cold War Bunkers

Recommended Read: Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s

Joseph Backstein, Ekaterina Degot and Boris Groys. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s. London: Haunch of Venison, 2010. In 2010 the (sadly missed) Haunch of Venison gallery in London presented a rare survey of paintings, sculptures and photographs by ‘unofficial’ Soviet artists, working just prior to the end of the Cold War. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s introduced visitors to the spirited movements and … Continue reading Recommended Read: Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s

Hidden Images After the Velvet Revolution

Over the course of six weeks from 17 November 1989, the Velvet Revolution brought to an end four decades of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. The protests were led by dissident playwright, Václav Havel, bringing the arts to the forefront of the revolution. Since the Czechoslovak coup d’état of 1948, artists in the country had been forced to submit to the restrictions of Soviet Socialist Realism. … Continue reading Hidden Images After the Velvet Revolution

Exhibition of the Month: Jane and Louise Wilson

From now until 2 August, the 303 Gallery in New York goes Cold War with an eponymous exhibition by the British artist duo Jane and Louise Wilson. The twin sisters have spoken of their fascination with ‘dark tourism’ and the ‘atmosphere of fear’ they experienced during their childhood in the Cold War. Here they present photographs, sculptures and installation pieces, including Atomgrad, Nature Abhors A Vacuum, depicting the … Continue reading Exhibition of the Month: Jane and Louise Wilson