Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
The Commissar Vanishes
“The one who owns the past, owns the future!” – Although photographers of the Soviet State Department in the 1930’s probably did not have the chance to read Orwell’s world famous anti-utopia, 1984, they still knew that those who wanted to eradicate the past, first had to carefully rewrite it. There could only be one true road from the past to the present and to the future – to the inevitable triumph of communism. Therefore, whenever the present changed, the road leading up to it had to be redrawn as well. Thus those who were so intent on getting rid of the past in fact became slaves of it.
For the past twenty years David King, British art historian, art director of the London Sunday Times, has been collecting photographs – originals and retouched versions – documenting the history of the Soviet Union, the revolution, important events and leaders. The falsification of the photographs speak volumes about the diabolic cynicism of the regime and staggering personal tragedies. The exhibition was opened by David King.