29 Astounding Soviet Propaganda Images Promoting Racial Equality

Whoa. The Soviet Union got racial equality right before America?

Under its policy of internationalism, the Soviet Union tried to eliminate racism right from the beginning — aggressively instituting domestic and international policies of equality, humanism, and anti-colonialism.

The reality on the ground did not always reflect those ideals: ethnic conflict, xenophobia, and antisemitism were pervasive during the Soviet years. Yet these conflicts were many times suppressed or kept in check by the state.

But that’s all easy to forget given Russia’s steep rise in racist and xenophobic violence over the last decade.

Why did this breakdown of internationalism and equality occur? That’s a question that New York-based Russian artist Yevgeniy Fiks is trying to reflect on in his latest exhibition at Winkleman Gallery in New York titled The Wayland Rudd Collection.

In his conceptual project, Fiks collected hundreds of images of Africans and African-Americans in Soviet visual culture. He then asked contemporary artists and writers from Russia, the United States, and countries in Africa to respond to them in any form (including artwork) and to question today’s state of racial equality globally.

Here’s a small batch of Soviet propaganda images in Fiks’ collection. You can view the full collection and artists’ response at Winkleman Gallery.

1. “Greetings to the fighters against fascism!”

by V. B. Koretsky, poster, 1937

2. “Africa Is Fighting, Africa Will Prevail!”

by V.B. Koretsky, poster, 1981

3. “He carried Africa in his heart (Lumumba).”

by V.B. Koretsky, poster

4. “USSR is the shock brigade of the international proletariat.”

by G. Klutsis, poster, 1931

5. Sketch for the mural of the club named after Dzerzhinsky

by Brigade of Vkhutein, 1928

6. To the Fight!

by B. I. Prorokov, poster, 1950s

7. N.S. Khrushchev’s Meeting with American Workers

by Dmitri Oboznenko and Yaroslav Serov, 1961

8. “The Dawn of Freedom Cannot Be Extinguished!”

by V. Karakashev, 1967

9. Playing Ball (Octobers)

by G. I. Bublev, late 1920s

10. “People of Africa Will Overpower the Colonizers!”

by Kukryniksy, poster, 1960

11. Soviet Constitution Day

by Sergei Luchishkin, mural, 1932

12. “I will never forget a friend if we became friends in Moscow!”

V.V. Sachkov, postcard, 1964

13. A Song of Peace (Paul Robeson in Pickskills, NY)

by Valentin Polyakov, Igor Radoman, and Khaim-Shats, painting, 1950

14. All Flags Will Visit Us

by A. Deineka, painting, 1964

15. “70-year Anniversary of the African National Congress of South Africa”

by A. Shmidstein, postal stamp, 1982

16. Mothers of the Worlds

by A.N. Kuznetsov, mozaics in the Subway station “Prospekt Mira” in Moscow, 1970s

17. “The Great Lenin Showed Us The Way!”

by V. Boldyrev, poster, 1969

18. “We Are Young Leninists”

by V. M. Konashevich, 1925

19. Under Capitalism… Under Socialism…

by V.B. Koretsky, poster, 1948

20. “We live in a free Africa!”

by Nina Vatolina, poster, 1964

21. “Capitalism is doomed!”

by E. Artsrunyan, poster, 1966

22. Internatioanl Congress of Women

by R.V. Suryaninov, poster, 1963

23. “Higher the banner of proletarian internationalism!”

by O. Savostuk, poster, 1958

24. “International Day for the Protection of Children”

Postal stamp, 1958

25. “USSR is for the total disarmament!”

by V.B. Koretsky, poster, 1959

26. “Damn you, Capitalism!”

by K. Ivanov, poster, 1975

27. Children of the Hero of the Congolese People, Patrice Lumumba — Fransua, Patrice and Julianna

by N. Osenev, postcard, 1961

28. “Fighter for the freedom of South Africa, Nelson Mandela”

postal stamp, 1988

29. “Workers of all countries and the oppressed colonial peoples.”

by V.B. Koretsky, poster, 1932

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