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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Jan-18 > The lure of utopia

The lure of utopia

Soviet artists dreamed of a perfect future even as Stalin persecuted them, finds Owen Hatherley

Red Star over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture, 1905-1955

Tate Modern, until 18th February

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future

Tate Modern, until 28th January

Inside the Tate Modern’s two current exhibitions, which opened for the anniversary of what the Soviets used to call the Great October Proletarian Socialist Revolution, are images of two studios.

One of them is seen in a short film about the late British designer David King—his collection of Soviet posters, photographs, books and banners, which forms the basis of Red Star Over Russia: a Revolution in Visual Culture, 1905-1955. King, a committed Trotskyist who also worked on the Sunday Times, shows us around the studio and its immense stash of slogan-bedecked ephemera. The root of his collecting enthusiasm was, he tells us, his interest in “heavyweight left-wing politics.”

The other is the installation The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment, originally created in the studio of Russian children’s book illustrator Ilya Kabakov in 1985, and now part of the other Tate exhibition Ilya and Emilia Kabakov—Not Everyone Will be Taken Into the Future, about the (still working) Conceptualist married couple, who have produced a series of installations first in the Soviet Union, and then in major galleries worldwide since the 1990s. It’s a small room, which you glimpse between planks nailed to the entrance. Like King’s studio, it is covered in Soviet posters, but from a much later, less sexy era—clunky 1970s graphics of spaceships and concrete panels. In the middle of the room, above the bed, is a catapult, and there’s a hole in the roof.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January 2018 issue: Five writers attempt to plot the impending advances in shopping, politics, sex, food and computing through 2018. James Plunkett looks at shopping and explains how personalised prices will hand even more power to the big companies; Theo Bertram outlines why political volatility is here to stay and what it means for us; Kate Devlin argues that sex robots are only a part of the impending sexual revolution; Stephanie Boland outlines why we’ll all end up eating lab grown food; and Jay Elwes explains the next steps in our computing quantum leap. Elsewhere in the issue: Dani Rodrik uncovers the truth behind the great globalisation lie—there were always going to be losers, Iona Craig delves into the war in Yemen—the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, Chris Tilbury explains why Britain urgently needs a plan for its failing prisons
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