An exhibition of previously unseen Soviet anti-alcohol posters from the FUEL archive goes on show at Pushkin House today (March 23).
Designed and curated by FUEL Design and Publishing, ALCOHOL: Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters runs until April 13.
ALCOHOL, a book featuring the posters, will launch at the same time as the exhibition.
FUEL’s latest book
ALCOHOL presents an exhaustive collection of previously unpublished, Soviet anti-alcohol posters.
The book includes examples from the 1960s through to the 1980s. However, it focuses on those produced during the Mikhail Gorbachev campaign. Initiated in 1985, his so-called ‘Dry Law’ lasted for two years.
Displayed in public places the posters attempted to sober up citizens by forcing them to confront issues associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
This allowed the poster designers to present the anti-alcohol message in the most graphic terms.
They depicted drunks literally trapped inside the bottle or being strangled by ‘the green snake’.
Their protagonists always produce sub-standard work, neglect their families and present a constant danger to fellow citizens.
These dangerous elements are portrayed as violent paralytic freeloaders and shirkers. They drive under the influence, are black-marketeers and desperate cologne drinkers.
The exhibition retains the integrity of the original posters by pasting prints of them directly onto the walls of Pushkin House, transforming it into a Soviet workers’ club.
A season of events exploring the theme of alcohol in Soviet society also begins next week.
On March 30 there will be a chance to enjoy the brighter side of alcohol with a vodka tasting. Drinks will be accompanied by food from Zima restaurant and tasting notes from Pushkin Wine Club’s Tanya Nesterova.
Charlotte Hobson, author of the new preface to Venedikt Yerofeyev’s Moscow Stations, will consider the role of alcohol in the book on March 31.
On April 5, author Caroline Walton will talk about her experience of co-writing Smashed in the USSR with Ivan Petrov, a vagrant and drunk in late Soviet times.
April 12 will see an examination of the medical impact of Gorbachev’s ‘Dry Law’ with Professor of Epidimiology David Leon and journalist and author Oliver Bullough. Dr Leon has been studying the period for years while Oliver wrote The Last Man in Russia about the country’s dwindling population.
ALCOHOL, Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters, is available in hardback with an ‘Animated’ lenticular cover for £19.95.
More information is available on the FUEL website.
The exhibition opens at Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, London, on March 23.
For more details of opening times and special events visit the Pushkin House website.
Spectrum Photographic is the print sponsor for the exhibition. All images printed on Blueback paper.
Copy editing by Sheena Campbell.