THE REVOLUTION IS STILL WITH US: A century ago, the Russian uprising of October 1917 defined the world order we know now, in which the struggle between individual and collective, capital and welfare, identity and authority continues to rage in new and unexpected ways. And though the Soviet state ultimately failed, it nevertheless left smoldering the embers of unrealized utopias and potentialitiesvisions of life and experience that challenged Western realities of oligarchy, democracy, colonialism, and war.
Art was at the center of these transformations. More so than Thermidor or Tahrir Square, the October Revolution posed the perceptual as political. Changing the way we see and sense could change the way we acted and thought. Forms, materials, making, organizingthese were, and could still be, the elements of a new society. In the essay that follows, scholar Devin Fore unearths radical models of Soviet social organization.
WITHIN THE CULTURAL HISTORY of selfhood, the Soviet “chronocard” constitutes a very curious artifact. Distributed to the thousands of members of the League of Time, a division within the legendary movement for the Scientific Organization of Labor (not), this tool for autosurveillance enjoined its user to register in its columns such everyday activities as sleeping, working, eating, commuting, attending lectures, relaxing, hygiene, and reading. (The chart also featured a write-in category at the bottom.) Part of a pervasive mania for efficiency and social management in the early Soviet period, the chronocard arrayed the biorhythms of the individual like the timetable of a train. However, unlike practices such as the confessional, diary writing, and other reflexive techniques of the self that were dominant in the West, the end product of the chronocard’s quantitative life-logging
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