chapter  6
Visualizing the New Soviet Citizenry
Pages 23

In spite of the individual and collective hardships endured by the young, peasants, women, or national minorities, all were expected to participate in socialist life, and this included celebrations. New songs and heroes introduced in both everyday life and the ceremonial-what Robin refers to as the symbolic level of acculturation-were becoming more prominent features of Soviet life and physical culture as the 1920s progressed. Physical culture symbolism appeared to have become ever more pronounced with parades and festivals celebrating “the strong, daring and proud”. Spartakiads and parades, by virtue of their mass nature and the element of spectacle, presented the state with a powerful visual “programme of identity”. Physical culture and sports themes became popular among artists, sculptors, and photographers. Certain artists in particular came to be associated with this theme, for example, Aleksandr Deineka, Aleksandr Samokhvalov, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Gustav Klutsis, Ivan Shagin, Iosif Chaikov, and others. Paintings, sculpture, and other artistic forms became integrated into the everyday existence of fi zkul’tura as stadiums, parks, and metro stations represented ideal canvases for fi zkul’tura expression. Deinika’s Fizkul’turnitsa and Goalkeeper, Samokhvalov’s Girl Wearing a Football Jersey and Girl with a Shot Put, Chaikov’s The Football Players, as well Mayakovskaya, Ploshchad Revolutsii, and Dinamo metro stations were all reminders of the relevance of physical culture in Soviet culture and society.2 Meanwhile, the photographs of parades and festivals taken by Rodchenko and Klutsis captured not only the organization involved in such events but also their

symbolic signifi cance. The images they produced served to validate and reinforce the importance of physical culture and sport. Besides these, there were other visual modes of popularizing and indeed glamorizing physical culture. Films such as Dziga Vertov’s 1929 Chelovek s kinoapparatom (Man with a Movie Camera) and Semyon Timoshenko’s 1936 Vratar’ (The Goalkeeper) served to bring fi zkul’tura to an even wider audience, portraying fi zkul’turniki as desirable, transformative, and inspirational.