The seemingly endless stacks of T-shirts folded neatly on storefront tables or toy store shelves lined with perfectly packaged Barbie dolls will usually stir up some kind of emotion within us -- good and bad. Are these feelings simply a desire to possess these objects? Can we ever hope to have a more meaningful relationship with mass-produced commodities than extreme possessiveness? In an article in the Ideas section of the Boston Globe, Joshua Glenn posed this question to Christina Kiaer, author of Imagine No Possessions, a new book that explores the efforts of the Russian Constructivists, a group of avant-garde artists in the 1920s who were determined to create mass-produced objects that were more like comrades than slaves:
In her new book, Kiaer, an associate professor of art history at Columbia, closely analyzes the designs -- for textiles, clothing, household items, packaging, and ads -- created in the early to mid-1920s by Aleksandr Rodchenko, Liubov Popova, and other Constructivists. A poster for Red October cookies by Rodchenko and the revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, for example, shows a train of cookies jostling their way into the mouth of a girl with a flapper-style haircut. The image can be read, writes Kiaer, as a metaphor for the way objects could act as comrades in the effort to transform modern Russia into a social collective.
Read the entire article here.