How unreal can things get? As the sense of shared reality is eroded, more with each passing day, one wonders. Its specific reference is to a photograph, from , of a second-anniversary celebration of the October Revolution. In the picture, Vladimir Lenin stands at the top of a set of stairs, surrounded by many unidentified men and children and a few recognizable men, including Leon Trotsky, stationed just in front of Lenin. By the time the photograph was published, in , Trotsky had disappeared: he had been airbrushed out, along with several other commissars. Sometimes it is impossible to tell just who is missing from a photograph—only that someone is.

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Courtesy of our good chum Randy comes this absolutely chilling photo gallery of manipulated images from Soviet Russia. The images above illustrate the constant requirement for the Soviet Union to erase people from history depending on their future acts:.

Stalin's bloody reign is not without certain irony. Nikolai Yezhov, the young man strolling with Stalin [right], is shot in It seems only fitting that when Yezhov is removed from the photograph he is replaced by the waters of the Moscow-Volga Canal [left].

Yezhov was commissar of water transport. You know, it's stuff like this that really causes me to get infuriated when people compare the Bush administration to Big Brother in If I want to stand up here and call any U. Anyone at Wired can do that. We don't risk our families being shot or our existence being airbrushed out of history. We should always be careful to be aware of how quickly freedom can become tyranny, but over-exaggerating the problem is just an insult to the people who have died in the past.

The Commissar Vanishes [Newseum. The images above illustrate the constant requirement for the Soviet Union to erase people from history depending on their future acts: Stalin's bloody reign is not without certain irony. View Comments. Sponsored Stories Powered By Outbrain. More Stories. Author: Kate Knibbs Kate Knibbs. Author: Medea Giordano Medea Giordano. Author: Levi Tillemann Levi Tillemann. Author: Eric Niiler Eric Niiler.


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Joseph Stalin's pockmarked face, in particular, demanded exceptional skills with the airbrush. But it was during the Great Purges, which raged in the late s, that a new form of falsification emerged. The physical eradication of Stalin's political opponents at the hands of the secret police was swiftly followed by their obliteration from all forms of pictorial existence. Photographs for publication were retouched and restructured with airbrush and scalpel to make once famous personalities vanish. Paintings, too, were often withdrawn from museums and art galleries so that compromising faces could be blocked out of group portraits. Entire editions of works by denounced politicians and writers were banished to the closed sections of the state libraries and archives or simply destroyed. At the same time, a parallel industry came into full swing, glorifying Stalin as the "great leader and teacher of the Soviet people" through socialist realist paintings, monumental sculpture, and falsified photographs representing him as the only true friend, comrade, and successor to Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and founder of the USSR.


The Commissar Vanishes

At the same time, ordinary citizens, fearful of being in possession of banned material, defaced their copies books and photographs with scissors and India ink. Trotsky not important in Revolution. Stalin important! They had completely wiped him out. It was at this moment that I determined to start my collection. In the summer issue of Index on Censorship magazine , which focuses on the legacy of the Russian Revolution deputy editor Jemimah Steinfeld writes:.


The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia

The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia is a book by David King about the censoring of photographs and fraudulent creation of "photographs" in Joseph Stalin 's Soviet Union through silent alteration via airbrushing and other techniques. It has an introduction by Stephen F. Michael Nyman created a companion album of the same title in The second disc of the two-disc album contains The Fall of Icarus , the score to an eponymous art installation by Peter Greenaway from which had previously been unreleased. The first disc, The Commissar Vanishes , is a version of The Fall of Icarus that has been defaced similarly to the photographs reproduced in King's book.

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