Abstract

Of Russian Constructivism's manifold demonstration pieces, the model workers' club that Aleksandr Rodchenko exhibited in Paris in 1925 is one of the best. It s economy of mater ials and transparent structural logic exemplify Constructivism's rationalist bid for a socialist aesthetics, while its function as a club models the ideal of enlightened recreation as the partner to unalienated labor. Visible in the well-known photograph of the club are posters for the two films that are the subject of this essay. Both were conceived as demonstration pieces in their own right. The poster in the center, also designed by Rodchenko, is for Dziga Vertov's first feature-length film, Kino-Eye. The one to the right, with the pared-down typographic layout, advertises Aleksei Gan's Island of the Young Pioneers. Both films were made in 1924 and featured the Young Pioneers, the Soviet youth organization for children ages ten to fifteen founded in 1922 on the model of the Boy Scouts. Both were produced as examples of a new approach to filmmaking called “the demonstration of everyday life.” But while Kino-Eye has gone on to be celebrated as the closest thing to Constructivism in cinema, Island has only been mentioned in passing, and even then as a complete disaster.

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