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Title:Chaos by design: The constructivist stage and its reception
Author(s):Barris, Roann
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fineberg, Jonathan
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Art History
Abstract:The underlying theme of this dissertation is that the formation of and response to Russian constructivist stage design is motivated by a dynamic relationship between order and disorder, in social and artistic terms. Therefore, I begin with a discussion of what order meant, to society and to artists, in the period leading up to and just after the 1917 revolution, and in particular, in terms of goals for the future. I then establish the fact that artists saw themselves as the harbingers or creators of a new order, a role predicated on a belief in the democratization of art.
My third chapter establishes and explicates a "language" of constructivist stage design. This language is derived from many sources or components; and no work can really be understood without understanding the entire constellation of visual and ideological ideas of which the language consists.
In chapter four I develop the idea that the stage set was not an example of non-objective art, but had a subject--the depiction of the new world. Important to my thesis, however, is the idea that the subject of the set may have contradicted the subject of the play or it may have raised uncomfortable questions about social goals.
In the last chapter I examine the reception of constructivist stage design. Criticism rarely rested on just the acceptance or rejection of the aesthetic, although at times aesthetic terms dominated the discussion. Similarly, it was not merely a question of "taste." The visualization of the new world became the social-ideological factor underlying the critical and spectator response to the constructivist stage. But this is what generated the perception of chaos, because either the meaning of the constructivist language is not understood, or it is seen as communicating an overload of information, or the understood meaning is considered to be at variance with social goals. Thus, I argue that constructivist stage design did come to be seen as representing disorder or chaos, with disorder taking the form of the balagan, the western city, dualism, an incongruity between form and content, the presence of chance or randomness, the transformation of objects (a form of instability), an at times incomprehensible language, and ultimately, a subversion of the text or written word.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Barris, Roann
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512295
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512295

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