Image of the Builder of Communism in the Soviet Posters

Artur Dydrov

South Ural State University, Russia. Email:

 Volume 8, Number 4, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n4.19

Received July 01, 2016; Revised December 09, 2016; Accepted December  21, 2016; Published January 14, 2017


This paper focuses on the image of the Soviet people – builders of communism. The object of the study is a series of Soviet posters in different years. In this paper semiotic approach has been used to consider posters as signs. Each poster is a product of the ideology on a denotative and connotative level of the sign. For semiotics verbal messages, color, perspective, the value of the figures, postures, gestures and facial expressions are important. Poster is a complex of the two-roots system. It combines verbal and iconic messages. Images of the Soviet human were constructed from various combinations of the elements from these levels.

Keywords: Soviet poster, Soviet people, the Soviet Union, ideology, connotation, semiotics

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Selfie and the experience of the virtual image

Gabriela Farías , Puebla, Mexico


 Don’t cry, I’m sorry to have deceived you so much, but that’s how life is.

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita


People know the world through images; new realities are created and new identities are developed. Consequently, portraits may become a representation of one’s personality and a reflection of the society of spectacle. These digital pictures change the experience of memory and inherently trace back to photographs. Thus, the “screen” mediates the relations among people and the information flow carrying different meanings. In this way, the photographic material and the virtual image will be analyzed, and distinctions will be noted regarding the aesthetic experience, specifically regarding the self-portrait and the selfie.

Keywords: Photography, virtual image, selfie, self-portrait, and aesthetic experience.

The photographic image

Images are the core of society today; they have become the means of massive communication and, therefore, the essence of daily life. Humans have become homus photographicus. Almost every person has a camera, whether it is in a cellphone, iPad, tablet, point and shoot or any other device. People have learned to express emotions, ideas and concepts through images regardless of its complexity.

Photos may be digital images but not every image is a photograph. In this section, the photographic image will be considered as a print, different from the virtual image, based on their structure, materiality and distribution.

In general, the image is defined as a figure, the representation of something. That is, the copy of an object, a mental representation subject to cognition and interpretation. In that regard, Flusser (2001) writes about images as containers of signified meaning, as an abstraction of something projected into time and space. From ancient cultures and civilizations, the copy made of an object represents that entity along with other attributions given by individuals or a group. In that way, a symbol is created.

Pictures are a means to transmit ideas and even knowledge, since they are the bases of visual communication and they are also a cultural product.

When an artistic representation (drawing, painting, engraving) of an object is made, there is a certain distance between the copy and the original due to skills and techniques used by the author. This is what makes the art unique and provides an aura as Benjamin stated in 1936. However, upon the arrival of photography and the reproducibility of images, this gap is reduced to such an extent that the object depicted may be taken as the object itself conveying its authenticity. In this way, sight is the preferred sense emphasizing that seeing is believing. The image is proof of the subject’s existence, “it has been” as Barthes affirms, undeniably in a specific time and space.

However, the object portrayed no longer subsists, the photograph becomes a testimony, an index of a former event. Then, the picture has a diachronic relationship with the beholder, who has a memory and builds an emotional connection based on something that only exists in the past. In that regard, the image retains significance over time as if it were a ghost, the meaning remains on the surface. In fact, Brea argues that it (the material-image) remains static as a result of their production process in which there is a specific and unique time lapse (Brea, 2010; 113). The material photograph is always in delay, “it has been” and the significance is retrieved through diachronic memories.

Before the appearance of the virtual image, photographs (and previously painted portraits) were consumed, generally in a more intimate context, for example in a private album or they were displayed in the family room. The aesthetic experience was closer to a painting and according to Moxey (2013), the meaning was clear, that is, the viewers easily appreciated the significance since the portrait was conceived for a particular audience in a certain time. In contrast, virtual pictures are distributed in a different way and have diverse spectators.

Fig.1 Hippolyte Bayard, 1840
Fig.1 Hippolyte Bayard, 1840

The material images, under their production scheme, are prone to depict the world as a canvas, the medium determines how people look, read sings and tell stories. Additionally, the narratives are considered to be truthful because, in order to photograph an object, it has to exist; it has a referent, contrary to painting, where the artist may create chimeras based on imagination.

Nonetheless, the veracity of a picture may be questioned since it could be staged or transformed into something else, even something that is not as it appears in reality. For example, a portrait may be an idealistic version of a person, an alter ego or simply not the subject as known in daily life. To illustrate further, the case of Hippolyte Bayard becomes interesting to mention. In 1840, Bayard photographed himself as a drowned man, and people who saw the picture believed it was real. At the time, these images were believed to be real because a mechanic device, a camera, had taken them. In this way, Bayard created an alternative reality, where he was found dead.

In the 19th century people may have been keener to be deceived, but what happens when images are mass created? Presently, the sense of unreality is inherent and it is harder to believe that the subject “has been” the way it is portrayed….Access Full Text of the Article

Performing Pride/Performing Protest: LGBT Activism Post Recriminalizing of Section 377

Priyam Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India


The landmark judgment delivered by the Delhi High Court on 2nd July 2009 for reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and its reinstatement on 11th December, 2013 seemed to spearhead search for alternative spaces for performances. This paper aims at mapping and studying some LGBT protest performances emerging post recriminalisation of homosexuality under Section 377. Events and performances including LGBT pride parade, gay for a day (on facebook) and Global day of Rage have stirred public conscience and are known for the level of performativity and feminist/queer strategies like parody and camp. Considering the events during this period the categorization of the performances as feminist/queer itself is problematised. This paper aims to identify potential common ground wherein the feminism-queer divide breaks to produce alternative performance spaces. The case studies are historicized and considered through impact of state surveillance, the market, globalization, culture and changing feminist/queer ideology in the above mentioned case studies.


The 90s in India has seen the emergence of the political assertion of the ‘private realm of sexuality’ (Narrain, 2004: 1). The euphoric outburst post the 2009 judgment reading down Section 377 seemed to be a culminating moment of the ‘performative coming out’ of queer sexuality in public space. In the capital, celebratory spectacles like pride parade, flash mobs and other performances contrasted the earlier more clandestine subcultures of queer life. The performative euphoria reflected through the effects of decriminalization was seen as the ‘new lease of life’ for different feminist/queer communities, legitimizing a space where their sexuality could be performed without the constant surveillance or harassment by the State. While the recriminalisation of Section 377 in December, 2013 curbed individual rights and ‘right to life’, LGBT activists along with people from the LGBT community and supporters for equal rights resorted to occupying strategic public spaces as well as virtual world through social media.

The euphoric celebration of sexuality in form of protest indeed contrasted a number of defiant performative incidents initiated by feminist and queer groups before. These earlier incidents were now recalled and re-contextualized as significant ‘performative’ expressions, which were reflected the mood for change. For example the incident of the Mangalore Pub Attack and the subsequent ‘pink chaddi campaign’ (Bangalore 2009), performance art on sexual harassment by Blank Noise, FKBK etc (Manola Gayatri: 2009). The self-confessed ‘frivolous’ response of the Pink Chaddi Campaign nevertheless set a precedent for later modes of protest whose impact may even be seen on the later slut walks. While citing particular feminist/ queer performances, I contextualize how one is inherently connected to the other in a more complex way than cause-effect syndrome… Access Full Text of the Article

Sex, Sexuality and Gender in the Delhi Metro Trains: a Semiotic Analysis

Anuj Gupta, St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, India


This paper explores the way sex, sexuality and gender are constructed in Delhi, India by using a semiotic understanding of reality whereby an individual is thought of as being subjectivized due to his being embedded in the socio-semantic text of a city full of signs which he/she interprets and appropriates. Within this socio-semantic text that the individual interprets, there are various determiners of interpretation and gender is one of them. The text of analysis is the collection of signs in the Delhi Metro trains and the methodology used is loosely based on the works of Roland Barthes. The purpose of this essay is to determine the ways in which the citizens of Delhi think of sex, sexuality and gender and analyze the ways in which these notions are reproduced on a daily basis through microcosmic texts like the signs in the Delhi metro trains.

Introduction: A “bookish” understanding of reality

The idea of a book serves as an appropriate metaphor for a semiotic understanding of “reality”. In such an understanding, both a book and reality are texts or collections of signs that the individual subject interprets though his faculties of interpretation, conditioned through his identity. However, it must be kept in mind that the text of reality and the interpreter are porous categories which constantly pour into and mould each other i.e., while the subject’s interpretation constantly reproduces reality, the very tools of perception that the subject has are shaped by social factors or determiners (that which the act of perception/interpretation will then go on to reproduce), creating a cyclical rather than a linear or causal model of the creation of the self and society. A circle has no origin, which is why it is virtually impossible to pinpoint which came first; the self or the social, parole or langue, the chicken or the egg.

There are various determiners that influence this hermeneutical act of creation of meaning and being which are spread out throughout the text of reality, both inside the individual and outside in the society. In simplistic terms, one could say that the primary schools of cultural criticism today (like Feminism, Marxism, Post Colonialism etc.) are oriented to the study of one such determiner of interpretation each and then through that determiner they postulate about this entire process. (For example, a post-colonial school of criticism would ideally focus on the significance of the determiner of race or ethnicity in the meaning created in a cultural artifact (like say Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart), through which it would then go on to postulate larger theories about how this is connected to the ways in which people generated “meaning” and modes of being in the socio-cultural semantic realities from which this text emerged (In the case of the Things Fall Apart, this would perhaps refer to the interpretative communities of pre and post colonization Nigeria).

Ideas about these determinants of interpretation do not magically emerge hierarchically from “centers” of power (like the state, or the church or the police) as was thought traditionally. Foucault’s thought shows us that power rather operates in a horizontal manner and is present everywhere (Foucault 1980). It would thus be wise to rechristen these erstwhile “centers” of authority as “lenses” of authority. They should be thought of as convex lenses which concentrate certain ways of orienting these determinants onto the society in which they exist at a given time. When the individual comes into being in this socio-semantic space, his/her ways of interpreting it and orienting his/her self are influenced by such lenses of authority. Barthes’ essay, The Death of the Author argues that reading a text while keeping in mind what the author must have meant is a kind of censorship of meaning (Barthes 1978). Such a reading of a text restricts whatever meanings one might have produced. The writer figure should be thought of simply as the conductor of the textual symphony rather than its composer. If we transpose this argument onto the semantic text of reality, then just like the prominence of the intentional fallacy in the creation of meaning in the reading of a book, individuals in society too are usually influenced in their acts of interpretation of reality by the “author”otative lenses of power discussed above. Revolution in this sense would be a radical new interpretation of this text of reality that defies the meanings generated if one dutifully orients one’s interpretations in accordance with these lenses of ‘authority’…Access Full Text of the Article

Black Feminist Discourse of Power in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide

Lamia Khalil Hammad, Yarmouk University, Jordan

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This paper discusses black feminist discourse of power in Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who have considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. The work depicts the struggle of black women through a rainbow of experiences. At the end, the girls arrive at ‘selfhood’ by finding God in themselves. This paper focuses on how the patriarchal discourse lead to their suffereing and how they were able to claim back their identities as black females who only need to be loved and appreciated.

Voicing Colourspaces: Colour-usage and Response as Alternative Narration in Dennis Cooley’s Bloody Jack

Ashes Gupta, Tripura University, India.

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Dennis Cooley has attempted to unsettle several complex issues relating to post modernity, intertextuality, mingling of genres, decentering authority et al.  His poetry is rich in complexity and in dealing with the problems of the text. He has published three books of poetry.  Leaving (Turnstone 1980), Fielding (Thistledown 1983) and Bloody Jack (Turnstone 1985).  His poetry reveals his interest in formal departures from the tyranny of orthodox running rhythm, and the left hand margin.  From Leaving to Bloody Jack, Cooley has decentred authority from its traditional formal and ideological strongholds including the author, and placed it in the mind and heart of the reader.  In his books of poetry, especially Bloody Jack, Cooley tends to deal with flexibility, knowledge and tolerance and seeks to voice the sparsely populated and neglected space of the Canadian prairie. This paper is an attempt to read Dennis Cooley’s Bloody Jack from the semiotic perspective of his use of colour as sign-code in it and the other related issues that it voices.

What is Performance Studies?

Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

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Because performance studies is so broad-ranging and open to new possibilities, no one can actually grasp its totality or press all its vastness and variety into a single writing book. My points of departure are my own teaching, research, artistic practice, and life experiences.

Performances are actions. As a discipline, performance studies takes actions very seriously in four ways. First, behavior is the “object of study” of performance studies. Although performance studies scholars use the “archive” extensively – what’s in books, photographs, the archaeological record, historical remains, etc. – their dedicated focus is on the “repertory,” namely, what people do in the activity of their doing it. Second, artistic practice is a big part of the performance studies project. A number of performance studies scholars are also practicing artists working in the avant-garde, in community-based performance, and elsewhere; others have mastered a variety of non-Western and Western traditional forms. The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral. Third, fieldwork as “participant observation” is a much-prized method adapted from anthropology and put to new uses. In anthropological fieldwork, participant observation is a way of learning about cultures other than that of the field-worker. In anthropology, for the most part, the “home culture” is Western, the “other” non-Western. But in performance studies, the “other” may be a part of one’s own culture (non-Western or Western), or even an aspect of one’s own behavior. That positions the performance studies fieldworker at a Brechtian distance, allowing for criticism, irony, and personal commentary as well as sympathetic participation. In this active way, one performs fieldwork. Taking a critical distance from the objects of study and self invites revision, the recognition that social circumstances– including knowledge itself – are not fixed, but subject to the “rehearsal process” of testing and revising. Fourth, it follows that performance studies is actively involved in social practices and advocacies. Many who practice performance studies do not aspire to ideological neutrality. In fact, a basic theoretical claim is that no approach or position is “neutral”. There is no such thing as unbiased. The challenge is to become as aware as possible of one’s own stances in relation to the positions of others – and then take steps to maintain or change positions.

Semiotic Encryption of Women, Violence and Hysteria in Indian Women Dramaturgy

Praggnaparamita Biswas,  Banaras Hindu University, India

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The juxtaposing depiction of women, violence and hysteria as semiotic elements in women-centric play-texts attempts to translate the theatrical meanings because of its demonstrable approach to unearth the textual meanings and its relational politics of representation. From semiological aspect, the interplay of women, violence and hysteria generates a kind of semiotic femaleness in order to prognosticate the feminist route of cultural politics imbedded in the narratives of female composed drama. The present paper intends to analyze the semiotic transformation of Indian women dramaturgy in the plays of Padmanabhan, Mehta and Sengupta. Each of their plays tries to interpret new meanings hidden under the semiotic signs used by these playwrights and also attempt to project the gender politics visualized in the realm of feminist theatre.  

Ravaged Bodies, Embodied Performance: Performativity in Dattani’s Brief Candle

Samipendra Banerjee, University of Gour Banga, Malda, India

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Brief Candle, Mahesh Dattani’s latest play concerns itself with the plight of cancer patients but in the process takes important strides in performativity. This paper is an attempt to evaluate performance and performativity within the theatrical space through an analysis of the centrally dominant stage prop, the mask or ‘Face of Cancer’ and performing bodies. Touching upon the genealogy of Performance Studies as a discipline and its intricate and fraught relationship with the theatre I seek to explore performative elements in the play. I also seek to look at the ‘derogated’, cancerous body as a charged site of performativity and argue that bio-medical and technological intervention crucially transforms the human body. The play could also be read as a space that explores the post-human body and its performative possibilities.

The Semiotics of Violence: Reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies

Debamitra Kar, Women’s College, Calcutta, India

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This paper attempts a reading of Italo Calvino’s novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) from a postmodern perspective. The novel has always been seen as structuralist experimentation, particularly because it was written at a time when Calvino was associated with the OULIPO, the group of the French philosophers like Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and others. The paper argues that the simultaneous reading of the words in the text and pictures in the margin, challenges the very practice and method of reading. The novel suggests that it can be read as a card game, a game that accentuates deferral and plurality of meaning. These conflicting readings create the semiotics of violence, which again is reflected in the theme of the stories. The paper cites example of three stories which show that the violence of language is codified as the violence of the feminine on the masculine, arguing that the feminine challenges the rules, laws, and structures of language as well as life and destroys things that adheres to any strict binary form. The conflict between the rule of the Father and the lawlessness of the Mother leads to no higher synthesis—it ends in violence that refuses all routes of communication or meaning.