Watching Socialism: The Television Revolution in Eastern Europe

The Wende Museum
The Armory, Culver City, California
June 23 - October 20, 2019

Statárium

This exhibition moves beyond the idea of communist television as a propaganda tool to draw attention to its role in everyday life, its varied programming, its transnational connections, and its countercultural potential. Television played an important role in the competition between the capitalist West and the communist East as a touchstone of modernity and progress. For the Soviet Bloc countries, it also represented the promise to easily and effectively spread communist ideology. However, television in the communist party-states was fraught with contradictions. The state had very little control over how messages were received by viewers in the privacy of their living rooms. Audiences in several communist countries could receive television signals from the West, allowing them a completely different view of life beyond the Iron Curtain. Moreover, in the later years of the Cold War the medium was sometimes appropriated for countercultural messages. The exhibition will be co-curated with British scholars Sabina Mihelj and Susan Reid.