Creating Altreality: The Sovietization of Lithuanian Photography

Author: Margarita Matulytė
Price 25,- €

2021 • LKTI • Paperback • 15,3 × 22 cm • 416 p. • Illustrations

ISBN 978-609-8231-32-8

This book presents a consistent version of the historical model of the evolution of Lithuanian photography in the Soviet period, emphasizing Sovietization as an essential factor influencing the convergence of stylistic expression and controlling the dissemination of photography and the resonance of image “messaging” within society. The Lithuanian photographic landscape is presented here in three sections, in an effort to better understand what kind of photography was expected in the Soviet era (the models embraced by ideologues and the creators of photography), how photography was created (the principles, methods, and artistic uniqueness of expression), and where and how it was promoted (dissemination methods and the censorship imposed upon them). The neologism altreality to emphasize one of Soviet photography’s most important missions: the visual depiction of the ideological reality constructed in Communist Party offices.

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Once established as a means of disseminating communist propaganda, Soviet photography was expected to reflect the illusion of absolute truth. Through the use of visual coding methods and the manipulation of symbols and iconic narratives, Soviet photography generated a mythological reality – an altreality founded on political values and meanings. The totalitarian ideals implied in the reproduction of Socialist Realism through photography promoted the Soviet individual’s selective and unobjective attitude toward the surrounding environment – the means by which the regime sought to isolate its citizens’ minds from doubts and thereby create stabilizing conditions for the further development of Soviet society.

Margarita Matulytė