Picturing the Cosmos

A Visual History of Early Soviet Space Endeavor

Iina Kohonen

Picturing the Cosmos

Iina Kohonen

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

132 pages | 128 color plates | 7 x 9 | © 2017
Paper $36.50 ISBN: 9781783207428 Published December 2017
Space is the ultimate canvas for the imagination, and in the 1950s and ’60s, as part of the space race with the United States, the solar system was the blank page upon which the Soviet Union etched a narrative of exploration and conquest. In Picturing the Cosmos, drawing on a comprehensive corpus of rarely seen photographs and other visual phenomena, Iina Kohonen maps the complex relationship between visual propaganda and censorship during the Cold War.

Kohonen ably examines each image, elucidating how visual media helped to anchor otherwise abstract political and intellectual concepts of the future and modernization within the Soviet Union. The USSR mapped and named the cosmos, using new media to stake a claim to this new territory and incorporating it into the daily lives of its citizens. Soviet cosmonauts, meanwhile, were depicted as prototypes of the perfect Communist man, representing modernity, good taste, and the aesthetics of the everyday. Across five heavily illustrated chapters, Picturing the Cosmos navigates and critically examines these utopian narratives, highlighting the rhetorical tension between propaganda, censorship, art, and politics.
Contents
Foreword
Acknowledgements
1 Introduction
“The Current Generation of Soviet People Will Live Under Communism”
Secrecy and Spotlight
Material Used in the Book
The Structure of the Book
2 A Slash Across the Heavens
Racing into Space
To Conquer- or to Explore?
The System of Secrecy
Scouts of the Heavenly Depths
To the Moon and Around
A Map of the Moon
3 Travelers in the Void
The Gaze of Apollo
Cosmic Landscapes
Alexei Leonov, an Artist on a Journey
Horro Vacui: On Infinity and Congestion
Photograph Versus Painting
4 Story of the Heroic Conquest of Space
Cosmonauts and the Regime of Secrecy
Visual Narratives of Space Heroes
The Hero’s Homecoming
The Tomb
The Jubilant Crowd
A Call from the Secretary General
5 A Completely Ordinary Hero
Devil in the Detail?
The Hero as an Everyman
6 The Housebroken Hero
Mothers and Sons
A Modern Space Heroine- and a Cosmic Love Story
Fathers and Husbands
Modern Homes for Ideal Citizens
7 The Tormented Hero
Hero on the Threshold
Man- Machine
The Death of the Hero
8 Conclusions
The Tamed Infinity
Cosmonauts as Examples of the Good Life
Imagery as a Modern Space Narrative
The Last Journeying Men
The Descended Hero
Endnotes
Sources and Literature
List of Figures
 
Review Quotes
Undark
"The book examines how visual media served to construct an overarching heroic mythos of the conquering Soviet man, bravely exploring the depths of space, for the glory of the USSR and all mankind, and how that narrative was crafted to emphasize the values that Soviet leaders wanted to instill in their citizenry — while hiding uncomfortable realities and preventing attitudes at odds with the official line."
LSE Review of Books
"This beautifully illustrated book provides compelling insight into the construction of the cosmonauts as idealised heroes of the Soviet Union...and shows the role that cosmic images played in the making of modernity." 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Intellect Ltd. RSS Feed