“Image Diplomacy attempts to bring to light not only the collective desires and utopian hopes that once animated the dream of twentieth-century modernity, but those who were excluded from or repressed by the dream. In doing so it challenges the false and forgotten promises of historical and technological progress that continue to unconsciously inform the nightmare that is our political present and impel us interminably toward further catastrophes. In rescuing and reshuffling the shattered and unredeemed dreams of futures past, Image Diplomacy asks whether these collective desires and utopian energies are capable of alternative configurations.” —Alex Fletcher
This publication documents Vladislav Shapovalov’s long-term undertaking Image Diplomacy, consisting of a film and a series of installations focused on exhibitions as a political medium. The project narrates the battle waged between two ideological blocs, the USSR and the United States, in the field of “exhibition diplomacy” during the Cold War and gives insight into the unwritten history of Soviet soft power and socialist internationalism. It compares forgotten archival materials left behind in Europe from Soviet photographic “kit” exhibitions and films with the American Family of Man exhibition, on display today at Luxembourg’s Clervaux Castle and included in the UNESCO Register. Interplays between exhibition histories, geopolitics, and art practice are further examined in the contributions by film scholar Alex Fletcher and curator and researcher Gudrun Ratzinger; a conversation between Shapovalov and curator Emanuele Guidi; and an essay by curator and researcher Andrei Siclodi.