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where everyone is happy by default

navalorama publishing


On 17 January 1938, shortly before a planned visit to New York City, the artist and Soviet propagandist Gustav Klutsis was arrested in Moscow and, six weeks later, killed on Stalin’s order. Some thanks, you want to say. After all, Klutsis, in collaboration with his wife, Valentina Kulagina, made on-command eye candy out of some of the regime’s dreariest and most long-winded slogans, like ‘Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country’. The obvious and easy questions to ask here are those which raise the inevitability of Klutsis’s death: ‘Do politics and art mix?’, whatever mixing might mean, or ‘Is an artist working for the government already dead?’ We’ve got it all wrong. Obvious and easy questions aren’t going to get us anywhere. ‘How can politics and art not mix?’ is better, but still, this sets up two camps: politics, over there, far away, and resolutely not an artform; and art, something more proletarian, perhaps, and resolutely not a legitimate form of political discourse. It’s one or the other. And still we’re no closer to solving this whole mixing conundrum. The Stapletown Project, however, busts wide open the above so-called disconnect. Immerse yourself totally in these stationery cityscapes, and, before long, your aesthetic sensibilities get

recircuited. The potential artistic energy of the workaday screams out wherever you look, and the words of Klaus von Beyme come hurtling to the fore: ‘The knowledge that everything is politics leads us astray if it is not supplemented with the insight that everything is also economics or culture.’

Here’s the rub. Surely the office aesthetic is one of the deftest, most genius acts of artistic sleight of hand around, precisely because it hides so well its very status as art. Its designedness. For what artist, as we understand the word, would be behind the sort of monochrome, life-sapping hell that is the office space, where the most daring things permitted are pot plants and signs noting that you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps? So male. So boring, too, and that’s where the genius really lies. What is fundamental is that this aesthetic is unmistakably that of Politics, big P, too, which is similarly all grey suits and grey men. I don’t do politics, one commonly hears. It’s dull. The Constructivist paradise contained within these pages offers a way out of this bind. So politics has out-arted art. So art must out-art it back. Politicising the staple seems like the only honest place to start.

Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th century, influencing major trends such as Bauhaus and the De Stijlmovement. Its influence was pervasive, with major impacts upon architecture, graphic and industrial design, theatre, film, dance, fashion and to some extent music. The term Construction Art was first used as a derisive term by Kazimir Malevich to describe the work of Alexander Rodchenko in 1917. The constructivists tried to create works that would make the viewer an active viewer of the artwork. Many Constructivists worked on the design of posters for everything from cinema to political propaganda: the former represented best by the brightly coloured, geometric posters of the Stenberg brothers (Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg), and the latter by the agitational photomontage work of Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina. Constructivist architecture emerged from the wider constructivist art movement. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 it turned its attentions to the new social demands and industrial tasks required of the new regime.

Aleksander Rodchenko (1891 – 1956) was a Russian artist, sculptor,photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design; he was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova. Rodchenko was one of the most versatile Constructivist and Productivist artists to emerge after the Russian Revolution. He worked as a painter and graphic designer before turning to photomontage and photography. His photography was socially engaged, formally innovative, and opposed to a painterly aesthetic. Concerned with the need for analytical-documentary photo series, he often shot his subjects from odd angles—usually high above or down below—to shock the viewer and to postpone recognition. He wrote: “One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole again and again.” Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusierand Oscar Niemeyer, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture. Gropius transformed into the world the famous Bauhaus, a faculty that included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, Otto Bartning and Wassily Kandinsky.

László Moholy-Nagy (1895 – 1946) was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. Throughout his career, he became proficient and innovative in the fields of photography,typography, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and industrial design. One of his main focuses was photography. He coined the term “the New Vision” for his belief that photography could create a whole new way of seeing the outside world that the human eye could not. His theory of art and teaching is summed up in the book The New Vision, from Material to Architecture. He experimented with the photographic process of exposing light sensitive paper with objects overlain on top of it, called photogram. While studying at the Bauhaus, Moholy’s teaching in diverse media — including painting, sculpture, photography, photomontage and metal — had a profound influence on a number of his students, including Marianne Brandt. Gustav Klutsis (Latvian: Gustavs Klucis) (1895 – 1938) was a pioneering photographer and major member of the Constructivist avant-garde in the early 20th century. He is known for the Soviet revolutionary and Stalinist propaganda he produced with his wife and collaborator Valentina Kulagina.

Klutsis worked in a variety of experimental media. He liked to use propaganda as a sign or revolutionary background image. His first project of note, in 1922, was a series of semi-portable multimedia agitprop kiosks to be installed on the streets of Moscow, integrating “radio-orators”, film screens, and newsprint displays, all to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Revolution. Like other Constructivists he worked in sculpture, produced exhibition installations, illustrations and ephemera. But Klutsis and Kulagina are primarily known for their photo montages. Their dynamic compositions, distortions of scale and space, angled viewpoints and colliding perspectives make them perpetually modern. Lazar Markovich Lissitzky (1890 – 1941), better known as El Lissitzky was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, typographer, polemicist and architect. He was an important figure of the Russian avant garde, helping develop suprematism with his mentor, Kazimir Malevich, and designing numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus and constructivist movements, and he experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would go on to dominate 20th-century graphic design. source, info & influences : Prestell , Metropolis, 010 Publishers, Steidl, AbbeVille Press, Hanan, Russian State Museum, Taschen and Wikipedia.


Let’s commemorates the work of our great Leader, founder of Stapletown, whose Five Year Plan has guaranteed a lifetime of health, happiness and prosperity for each and every one of his citizens. Thank you, great Leader, for our beautiful office blocks and apartments, which tower above and beyond the clouds; for our drinking water, purer than pure; for our oh-so-straight roads, cleansed of dirt both actual and spiritual; for our schools, which instill in the next generation the values you uphold. Under you, great Leader, life never ceases to improve! Thank you, great Leader!

LET’S HAVE A YEAR OF BIG THINKING “In order to educate man to a new longing, everyday familiar objects must be shown to him with totally unexpected perspectives and in unexpected situations.” - Alexander Rodchenko “Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair,but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.”  - Walter Gropius “Design is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive way, in a harmonious balance of all elements necessary for a certain function.” - László Moholy-Nagy

Thanks to our great Leader who brought power to Stapletown with his 5 years plan. The Masses are gratefull to our great Leader. Thank you, great Leader! • Thanks to our great Leader, who invented Christmas. Be sure to celebrate his glorious mind and his devotion to our people’s prosperity. Thank you, great Leader! Merry Christmas, great Leader! • Thanks to our great Leader, every year is a good and prosperous year. We all know 2013 will be yet again one of those wonderful year despite the last taxe raise that will allow Stapletown to reach the size of our great Leader’s vision. Thank you, great Leader for this new year! • It has been brought to our great Leader’s attention that some cheap dictator wannabe used to command people in order to maximize complete pizza waste. Thanks to our great Leader, such idiotic behaviour is no more... May le spirit of all these poor wasted slices shine forever through the proud and invincible foundations of Stapletown. Thank you, great Leader! • The only satelite view of Stapletown allowed by our great Leader. Thank you, great Leader! • Thanks to Minister of Challenge, our great Leader has accepted an exceptional “open door” to Stapletown. Submit your application now and be prepared to surrender completely to the glorious vision of our great Leader. Welcome to Stapletown, body and soul. No pets allowed. Surrender! Thank you, great Leader! • Thanks to our great Leader, last 5 Years Plan wasn’t just about useless roads, healthcare or some other Death Star (a.k.a. “the loser globe”). Stapletown’s empowered missile launcher will now help building fruitful political relationships and spread the word about our great Leader’s vision. And we should thank him for that. Thank you, great Leader! • Let us take a moment to remember the humble but already glorious beginnings our great Leader’s vision. #Stapletown improves us all, and we should thank our great Leader for his benevolence and love. Thank you, great Leader! • Thanks to our great Leader, the strongest artistic innovation has crept inside the walls of Stapletown. Portland can now focus on its ridiculous organic market while Williamsburg can focus on its hipsters. From contribution to nomination, we should all praise our great Leader for his flawless choice, once again. Thank you, great Leader! • Thanks to our great Leader, you can now carry his vision. A vision of self acceptance and surrender, it’s Stapletown on a plate. Thank you, great Leader!

• inner pages printed on 200gr/m² uncoated Cyclus recycled paper • cover page printed on 350gr/m² uncoated Cyclus recycled stock • insert printed on silver/gold foiled Paperado 100gr/m² • insert printed on acid free tracing paper 110gr/m² • eco-solvent ink (FSC certified) & ecological toner (inserts) • high resistance recycled kraft enveloppes NF certified - PEFC • xylene free permanent silver/gold ink • building plan printed by Dexterity Press This book has been assembled manually First run of 200 copies (100 Proletarian / silver • 100 Ministerial / gold) All images and content © etc. Thank you



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"Stapletown - Where Everybody Is Happy By Default" - David Crunelle  

The Stapletown retrospective. An office-art introduction to constructivism and Russian avant-garde.

"Stapletown - Where Everybody Is Happy By Default" - David Crunelle  

The Stapletown retrospective. An office-art introduction to constructivism and Russian avant-garde.