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Crumbling Empire & Upside-Down Propaganda – Art Under Authoritarianism at the Wende Museum

[dropcap size=big]'T[/dropcap]hose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is a useful adage to keep in mind when viewing Crumbling Empire: The Power of Dissident Voices, an exhibit of Soviet-era dissident posters and paintings at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City.

In our current context of weaponized social media and politicized meme propaganda, understanding the iconography of authoritarianism – and appreciating the artists who satire it – is perhaps more important than ever.

Cleverly repurposing the visual tropes of the Stalinist state, the posters and paintings in the exhibit include an astonishing variety of references and visual techniques, and are strikingly modern –right at home adjacent to contemporary pieces by Shepard Fairey, also included in the show.

The stunning paintings of North Korean dissident Sun Mu, whose incredible story is told in a recent documentary on Netflix, are given a dedicated space in the museum. Similar to the Russian dissident posters, Mu’s works reference the imagery of the North Korean state and are imbued with his own memories – an effect that is somehow terrifying, beautiful, and bittersweet at the same time.

RELATED: Photos: Ralph Ziman's Casspir Project Exhibit Tackles Militarization ~ Rendon Gallery


Crumbling Empire: The Power of Dissident Voices

Upside-Down Propaganda: The Art of North Korean Defector Sun Mu

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