Radical Aesthetics and State Sponsorship in Soviet Cinema, 1960 - 1968
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CitationKoshkina, Vera. 2017. Radical Aesthetics and State Sponsorship in Soviet Cinema, 1960 - 1968. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation argues for an examination of lesser-known, self-consciously experimental film projects that flourished in the 1960s within and adjacent to the Soviet film industry. Revolutionary rhetoric and the imperative to treat experiment in the arts as a tool for broad social transformation shaped the structure of artistic institutions in the Soviet Union. At the same time, creative projects were state sponsored and free from market competition. Paradoxically, this combination of circumstances created opportunities for both ideological films and formally complex experimental works. In broad terms, my project examines the Soviet rhetoric of artistic experiment for the sake of social transformation and the kind of heterogeneous experiments with technology and with film form that it produced. In this dissertation, I focus on the poetics of experiment as it re-emerges in the Soviet film industry in the 1960s. I contend that the experimental nature of the culture of the 1920s, especially in film and visual arts, continues to inform this heterogeneity on the institutional and aesthetic level in the 1960s and beyond.
Combining aesthetic analysis with an examination of institutional frameworks, I proceed through four case studies of institutionally “misfit” film projects: I Am Cuba (1964), Homeland of Electricity (1967), Pervorossiiane (1967), and the visual music films of the Special Construction Bureau (SKB) Prometei group who completed their first film in 1965. Produced within the state run Soviet film industry, these films are both marginal to mainstream cinema as well as on the margins of what could be commonly claimed as experimental work. The dissertation establishes these “marginal films” as a new topic in the study of Soviet culture. It also places the cinema of the 1960s on a continuum with the visual art of the historical avant-garde. By focusing on these hybrid projects that foreground experimentation, it shows how experiment once again became a medium through which directors articulated different artistic and social positions in this period.
This dissertation contributes to three major areas of investigation: the study of Thaw-era Soviet cinema and culture, the growing literature on experimental film in state socialist Eastern Europe, and most broadly, the study of cinema in the context of visual and other arts. Reading Soviet cinema from its margins revises our understanding of the interaction between official culture, institutional protocol, and the reality of the artistic process, ultimately exposing the mechanisms of transformation of the Soviet film industry.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41141515
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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