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Photographs as Propaganda

John Simkin

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The commissar vanishes shows that photographs can lie. They certainly do in the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1953, the years of Joseph Stalin's dictatorial rule. Stalin's agents routinely arrest and kill as "enemies of the people" anyone who disagrees with his politics. Communist Party workers then try to remove any trace of these people from the photographic archives, and so from the media.

The Commissar Vanishes exhibition explores this censored history. By the 1930s Communist "truth" circulates worldwide in party approved books. With airbrush or ink spot, the photo censors work quietly. But despite their power, they ultimately fail. The images expose decades of photographic lies. It's a stark visual tour through a society where freedom is not an option.

Edited by N. Zijlstra
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  • 1 month later...

Out of interest, as soon as I saw that photograph I instantly thought it didn't look natural. If you look at it, JK has been taken from a photo where the lighting conditions were different - the light is brighter and comes from a different angle, which you can see from where the shadows are cast on his face and body. Also, he looks a bit big in comparison to the other speaker. ;)

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