Martor No. 26 / Year 2021

Lacquered History: Soviet Crafts and Problematic Memory of the Communist Past 

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Elizaveta BEREZINA 

Central European University, Hungary 

Pages: 47-54


Soviet history; visual history; Soviet crafts; lacquer miniature; exhibition project. 


The paper questions the ethics of displaying lacquer miniatures representing the Soviet past drawing on the example of an exhibition and publishing project Russian History: The Twentieth Century in Lacquer Miniature undertaken by the All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art (Moscow). In November 2017, almost 300 lacquer miniatures were displayed to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution and other upheavals of the twentieth century. While recognizing the efforts of the curators to introduce the imagery of lacquer painting into the actual discussion on the communist past, I argue that the project irons out the controversial nature of the Soviet regime and literally “lacquers” history. I criticize the project for (1) using lacquer miniatures merely as illustrations of the historical events; (2) ignoring political, economic and cultural conditions of imagery making; (3) evading discussion of the problematic past. The review suggests questions to be asked about the representation of history in lacquer miniatures that could help museum curators working with Soviet imagery in crafts. 

How to cite this article:

Berezina, Elizaveta. 2021. “Lacquered History: Soviet Crafts and Problematic Memory of the Communist Past.” Martor 26: 47-54. 

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