Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture--Visual Culture

Reaktion Books, 15.06.2006 - 221 Seiten
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Sport played a vital role within the social and cultural life of the former Soviet Union. From its very foundation to its final demise the Soviet state sponsored countless programmes promoting a whole gamut of sporting activities, and even generated a new term, fizkultura, derived from the Russian word for physical culture. The popular image of fizkultura, however, was as dependent upon its presentation in the cultural arena as it was upon its actual practice. Soviet sportsmen and women made frequent appearance in literature, film and popular song; on stamps, plates and teapots; and on the badges and medals of various societies. Further, sport became a central feature in the pageantry of the Soviet parade. Public exhibitions and popular journals were crowded with photographs, paintings and prints representing youthful Soviet sportsmen and women, whilst sculptural monuments to the Soviet passion for sport adorned sports centres and public parks. Several major artists even forged entire careers based upon representations of sport. Sport in the USSRlooks at physical culture within a wide range of Soviet cultural practices, paying special attention to visual culture. In particular it explores the role that physical culture played in the formulation of the Soviet New Person. Here, visual culture was deployed not only to promote the existence of this notional new being, but also to articulate the very process of transformation that brought him or her into existence. Images of sportsmen and women were also widely produced to conflate the leisurely nature of sports practice with the civic duty of voluntary labour, especially during the industrialization drives, and the military defence of the nation. Also examined are such issues as sports spectatorship and participation; the development of the sports parade; the role of fizkultura during military conflict; the deployment of fizkultura as a weapon during the Cold War; and the collapse of the Soviet sports machine.

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Visualizing Fizkultura
Sporting Icons
Participants and Spectators
Going Underground
The Last Line of Defence
Aiming for World Supremacy
Towards the Bitter End

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Über den Autor (2006)

Mike O'Mahony is Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Bristol, and the author of Sergei Eisenstein, (Reaktion Books, 2008).

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