About this Exhibit
Bureaucracy has been intensely examined by academics from a range of social science disciplines: public administration, political science, management, sociology, etc. Those studies, however, have often paled against the illumination of bureaucracy's problems and possibilities through less "orthodox" venues: the arts and humanities. This exhibit is devoted to the visual arts as one particular form of such critique, and cartoons and posters in particular. Perhaps the body of such work with the deepest such tradition is Russian satirical art, from which we have selected cartoons and posters as powerful vehicles for the critiques and frustrations of a particular society. Those messages – that bureaucracy is inefficient or ineffective, enervating or corrupt – are universal. Although the text is in Russian, and each is translated into English, the work of these artists is so powerful that the intended message is often clear without translation.
This collection is part of the rediscovery of a larger body of creative resources ranging over novels, poetry, films, drama, musicals, songs, sculpture and other such endeavors. Many of these works have been analyzed from administrative perspectives, public and private, in a growing body of scholarly works. In the field of public administration this analysis dates at least to Waldo's The Novelist on Organization and Administration (1968); Holzer, Morris and Ludwin's Literature on Bureaucracy (1979); and Goodsell and Murray's Public Administration Illuminated and Inspired by the Arts (1994). That dialogue continues on a regular basis in the journal Public Voices and through the Section on Humanistic, Artistic and Reflective Expression (SHARE) of the American Society for Public Administration.
The cartoons in this exhibit are illustrative of work in the XIX Century, and the first half-century of the Soviet Union. They were collected at the initiative of Marc Holzer of Rutgers University and through the endeavors of Pavel Makeyenko and Helen Lvova of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The posters were purchased from the artists by Holzer with the assistance and facilitation of Liudmila Kouznetsova of St. Petersburg University, and "exported" to the United States in their personal possession. Before the publisher destroyed virtually the entire stock of posters, the artists were permitted to salvage what they could, and the salvaged stock was then stored in their apartments, often under beds or in closets. The artists, and in some cases their widows, were appreciative of our interest in their art and in the possibility of sales for U.S. dollars. Despite having discarded prints of the posters as of no further interest, the publisher was similarly eager to sell negatives ("transparencies") of some posters for dollars as well; some of the prints in the exhibit were made from those negatives.
In terms of translations, we have attempted to be as literal as possible. Although we are not poets, we have attempted to rhyme verses, where possible, to reflect the original style. We have provided commentary for some, rather than all of the posters, in order to illustrate the context and purpose of the posters as a group. The translations were done under the auspices of the National Center for Public Productivity at Rutgers University-Campus at Newark. The following people have worked on this project:
- Marc Holzer and Vatche Gabrielian, Rutgers University-Newark
- Liudmila Kouznetsova, Department of Sociology, St. Petersburg University
- Ray Schwartz, Van Houten Library, New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Pavel Makeyenko and Helen Lvova, Institute for Systems Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
- Oleg Grimalovsky and Sasha Doroshenko, Muskie Fellows, Rutgers University
- Felicia Owens, Journalism Program, Rutgers University-Newark
- Ned Drew, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Rutgers University-Newark
- Kathryn Cramer, Cramer Communications