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About Не болтай!

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Не болтай!

A Collection of 20th-Century Propaganda

Welcome to the Ne boltai! Collection. This website provides thousands of selections from a large archive of political propaganda—mainly works on paper—produced by artists in the Soviet Union and its satellites.

The name of the collection, and of its website, Не болтай!, means Don’t Chatter! This stern command appears under a crude illustration of a maternal, shushing worker on an iconic Soviet poster from 1941 [FIGURE 1]. The selection of this poster (which has no particular artistic merit) as the logo of the archive emphasizes the archival aspirations of Не болтай! — which do not distinguish the sublime (e.g. 1920s and 30s constructivist works [FIGURE 2]) from the ridiculous (e.g. 1950s tirades against imperialism [FIGURE 3]).


The poster’s warning “Don’t chatter!” also questions the authenticity of our possible interpretations of the material in the archive. In one sense, preserving the ephemeral preparatory work and disposable, mass-produced images of the Soviet era defies the admonition not to chatter. On the other hand, to place these works in a Western collection seals their lips, for no victor’s Wunderkammer will allow them to speak other than in support of the victor’s cause. The selection of this poster as the symbol of the hall of oddities of the fallen Soviet empire is also meant to remind us that what we too easily trivialize as the comic and tragic deceits of our enemies’ propaganda resemble in a profound way the message and media of our own [FIGURE 4].


There are four main themes of the collection:

 

  1. The October Revolution and the Civil Wars (including several hundred ROSTA Window sets [FIGURE 5])

  2. Anti-Fascism during the 1920s until the beginning of the Second World War (featuring thousands of original drawings by, among others, Deni, Efimov and Kukryniksy [FIGURE 6]).

  3. The Second World War or, as it is called in the countries of the former Soviet Union, The Great Patriotic War (including over eight hundred TASS Windows [FIGURE 7]).

  4. The Cold War (up through the 1970s) (featuring an extensive archive of the work of Koretsky, including hundreds of studies, macquettes and photographs [FIGURE 8], as well as several hundred photocollages by Zhitomirsky [FIGURE 9]).


This periodization is not meant to limit the uses or interpretations of the images, but rather to act as an initial guide to them.


Ne boltai! will provide information about each image, as well as links to other works by era, artist, style, and theme. We welcome requests to lend these items for exhibitions, and encourage the publication of exhibition catalogues, scholarly research, and other writings that draw on the collection. The website is accessible only to authorized users. Please consult other tabs for help with navigating the collection. For further information, please contact the collection’s curator by email at info@neboltai.org.