New Brunswick, NJ
Dreamworlds and Catastrophes: Intersections of Art and Science in the Dodge Collection examines what was one of the dominant concerns of Soviet unofficial artists—and citizens everywhere—during the Cold War: the consequences of innovations in science, technology, mathematics, communications, and design. Produced between the 1960s and the 1980s, the works on view address themes of international significance from a turbulent period marked by the building of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a failed attempt at improved United States-Soviet relations. Their subject matter and formal appearance reflect the artists’ fascination with the Soviet and American space race and the worldwide tensions resulting from a nuclear arms deadlock.
Creative interpretations of these key historical events and their repercussions are presented in this exhibition through the works of more than twenty artists from the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia. Dreamworlds and Catastrophes explores the utopian fantasies and anxious realities of everyday Soviet life in the second half of the twentieth century through a variety of media, from documentary photographs and surrealist abstractions to hyperrealist paintings and kinetic sculptures. Kinetic artists in Russia and Latvia synthesized art and science in their works, often forming groups to collectively envision and even build immersive installations that offered viewers glimpses into unknown futures. While technological advancements gave great hope, they also came at a steep price, taking their toll on the Soviet economy, environment, and quality of life. Seeking to improve their situations, artists embraced the new worlds opened to them, reimagining or even dreaming of escaping their earthly environments.
Framing the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union within the period of its own conception, this exhibition honors the collecting history and legacy of Norton Dodge—an inimitable mediator—whose commitment to this work continues to shape an understanding of the transnational exchanges in art and culture during the Cold War.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website