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Please join us for an artist reception for our exhibit The Wayland Rudd Collection by Yevgeniy Fiks. This exhibit is supported by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture at Amherst College.
“The Wayland Rudd Collection,” a conceptual project by the artist Yevgeniy Fiks, assembles an archive of visual works testifying to the Soviet Union’s engagement with race relations in the United States and decolonization efforts in Africa. Rudd, the Collection’s namesake, left America for the Soviet Union in the 1930s to pursue his ambitions of becoming a stage actor whose career would be unhindered by racial discrimination in America. The Collection contains poster art and postcards Fiks has selected as typifying the representation of Africans and African-Americans in Soviet graphic production and propaganda. It reveals a complex entanglement of race and communism while also serving to remind us of the conflicted legacies of Soviet propaganda and the geopolitics of racism, both domestic and international, in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has been living and working in New York since 1994. Fiks has produced many projects on the subject of the Post-Soviet dialog in the West, among them: “Lenin for Your Library?” in which he mailed V.I. Lenin’s text “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” to one hundred global corporations as a donation for their corporate libraries; “Communist Party USA,” a series of portraits of current members of Communist Party USA, painted from life in the Party’s national headquarters in New York City; and “Communist Guide to New York City,” a series of photographs of buildings and public places in New York City that are connected to the history of the American Communist movement. Among his recent works are “Mother Tongue,” a multimedia project that explores the historical gay Russian defense language, a coded language dating back to Soviet times, and “Yiddish Cosmos,” a research project that uncovers the surprising connections between the Eastern-European Jewish experience, futurist utopianism, and the Soviet space program.