Visual Cold War

The cultural association "Italy-USSR" and Soviet films at the Venice Film Festival

People looking at the poster of "Roma, ore 11", Moscow, 1952. The director of the neorealist classic film Giuseppe De Santis was one of the board members of the cinematographic section of the association "Italy-USSR" (1946-1991). Photograph courtesy: Associazione Italia-Russia, Milan.

Starting from the early 1920s, cinema and international film festivals were the battleground for an ideological struggle between different political visions. The confrontation only increased after the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Stefano Pisu (University of Cagliari) explains how 16mm and 35mm film reels sent from the Soviet Union to the cultural association “Italy-USSR” helped to create and disseminate a positive image of socialist modernity in Italy, and why Soviet officials refused to participate in the Venice Film Festival.

The event is being organised within the framework of the research project Image Diplomacy by the artist Vladislav Shapovalov, a current participant of the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory at Künstlerhaus Buchsenhausen 2016–2017. The event has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Italian Center.

The lecture is held in English and Italian.

Vladislav Shapovalov (*1981, Rostov-on-Don, Russia) is an artist and researcher living and working in Milan and Moscow. He was a member of the art-group Radek Community from 1999-2007. Since 2008 he has been working independently on projects that focus on rethinking images, cultural artifacts and the construction of narratives as a way to construe and analyze geopolitical configurations. In 2016/17, Shapovalov took part in the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory in Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen with support from the City of Innsbruck. He is currently preparing his first solo exhibition Image Diplomacy in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (as from 17.11.2017), in which the film of the same name as well as the installation produced in Büchsenhausen, I Left My Heart in Rhodesia (2017), will be shown among other things. A further solo exhibition by Vladislav Shapovalov will take place as from the beginning of December 2017 at ar/ge kunst in Bolzano.

Recent exhibitions include Atlas [of the ruins] of Europe, curated by Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga and José Riello, CentroCentro, Madrid, 2016; Fear. The Origin of the State, curated by Fedor Blašák and Christian Kobald, Nová synagóga / Kunsthalle Žilina, Slovakia, 2015; The School of Kyiv. Kyiv Biennial, curated by Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schollhammer, Kyiv, 2015; Sources Go Dark, curated by Valerio Borgonuovo and Silvia Franceschini, Futura Center for Contemporary Art, Prague, 2015.

In the context of the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory 2016-17 at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in Innsbruck, Vladislav Shapovalov published the book Image Diplomacy (2020).

Stefano Pisu is a post-doctorate researcher in Contemporary History at the Department of History, Cultural Heritage and Territory of the University of Cagliari (Italy). His research interests are International Film Festivals as a source for the study of contemporary history; cultural diplomacy and international relationships, and cinema, power and society in the USSR from the 1920s to the 1950s. He is author of the monographic publication “Stalin in Venice. USSR at the Venice Film Festival between cultural diplomacy and ideological confrontation. 1932-1953” (Stalin a Venezia. L’Urss alla Mostra del cinema fra diplomazia culturale e scontro ideologico. 1932-1953, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli, 2013) and editor of the volume “War Films. Historical interpretations of war cinema” (War Films. Interpretazioni storiche del cinema di guerra, Quaderno della Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Acies Edizioni, Milano, 2015) for the Italian Society of Military History. Stefano Pisu is a member of the Italian Association of Central and Eastern Europe Studies (AISSECO).


Künstler:innenhaus Büchsenhausen
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