Tuesday, 30 March 2010

When a Century of Soviet Art Meets Ceramics

Bolshevik leaders after the revolution urged the nation’s artists to produce high-quality and powerful propaganda. Many of the greatest avant-garde artists of the day captured the spirit of the young state by brandishing revolutionary slogans in poetry, theater, paintings and film.
Porcelain was no exception. Factories like Leningrad’s State Porcelain Factory, previously the Imperial Porcelain Factory, turned from producing dishware for aristocrats to producing it for the new Soviet regime. The 1920s saw phrases such as “He who doesn’t work doesn’t eat” and “The kingdom of workers and peasants will have no end” etched around the edges of dinner plates by masters of ceramic art.
These two plates are among the nearly 500 porcelain dishes and statues on display in a new permanent exhibition, “Masterpieces of Soviet Porcelain,” at the All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Art. The exhibition displays rare masterworks crafted in the porcelain factories of Moscow and Leningrad from the 1920s through 1990.
“Twentieth-century Russian porcelain is a striking, unique page in the history of applied art not only in Russia but in the world. Such porcelain never existed before and will probably never exist again,” Larisa Karagodina, head of the contemporary art department at the State Ceramics Museum at the Kuskovo estate, said at the exhibition’s opening last month.
“This porcelain reflects all of the important events of the century and all its diverse and contradictory artistic trends,” she added.
Many of the exhibition’s pieces could be worth tens of thousands of dollars, said Yelena Vorushilina, the exhibition’s curator. Most of them are author’s editions, meaning that only a handful of copies were produced and each was signed by its artist. In some cases, similar designs would then be mass-produced for regular sale.
Some of the porcelain propaganda on show does not need slogans to make its point. A small ceramic statue from 1921 titled “The Awakening East” is of a Muslim woman with bared breasts removing her religious head-covering while reading a Soviet newspaper.
But not all of the works are propaganda. Most of the ceramic statues and dishware sets have no political agenda.
The Moscow Times

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Russia’s Berezka dance troupe: around the world in 62 years

Russia's famed folk dance ensemble,"Berezka", has just chalked up an impressive record.
Its dancers have surpassed the distance of the Equator in terms of the distance they have danced, according to "Berezka's" press secretary Tatiana Koltakova.
“Berezka,” which means birch tree in Russian, was founded back in 1948. Since then, the dance troupe has dazzled audiences around the world with its world-renowned appearances.
For over six decades, each of Berezka's performances has begun with a round dance, called the khorovod, which features the ensemble's trademark, inimitable step that was created by choreographer Nadezhda Nadezhdina.
Upon joining the ensemble, dancers are told to keep the famous “floating step” technique a secret, and not to share it even with their family.

Ансамбль "Березка"/Ensemble "Berezka"