Soaking up the rays forges a new path for exploring Britain’s fickle love of the light by investigating the beginnings of light therapy in the country from c.1890-1940. Despite rapidly becoming a leading treatment for tuberculosis, rickets and other infections and skin diseases, light therapy was a contentious medical practice. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day: recommended to counter psoriasis and other skin conditions as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression; closely linked to notions of beauty, happiness and well-being, fuelling tourism to sunny locales abroad and the tanning industry at home; and yet with repeated health warnings that it is a dangerous carcinogen. By analysing archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles and their visual representation of how light acted upon the body, Woloshyn assesses their complicated contribution to the founding of light therapy. Soaking up the rays will appeal to those intrigued by medicine’s visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.
The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913. This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet
Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and
decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to
have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In
contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork
and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book
identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to
capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the
history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely
object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet
design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of
domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as
unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility.
Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and
material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and
contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late
twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians,
scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as
museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public
interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist
on design and popularculture in Poland, Czechoslovakia and
Hungary; in 2008, with Jane Pavitt, he co-curated the exhibition ‘Cold War Modern’
at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
11 Margareta Tillberg, ‘Exhibition in Moscow, Soviet Design 1950s–1980s’, Baltic Worlds
1 (2013), 28–9, http://balticworlds.com/soviet-design-1950%E2%80%931980/
(accessed 30 March 2015).
12 ’Kachestvo – trebovanie dnia’, Sovetskaia torgovlia 2 (1976), 63. Quoted in Oushakine,
‘Against the “Cult of Things”’.
13 These elements were presented as constitutive of a new type of object
1960s. This was
famously epitomised in popularculture by the film The Graduate (1967)
and the song ‘Substitute’ by the rock band The Who.133 Unsurprisingly,
given that the Soviet Union emulated Western examples, plastic could
hardly be a truthful material, despite artists’ and critics’ attempts to reveal
its ‘hidden possibilities’. Yet these attempts, too, had Western precedents,
which people such as Blek and Kagan might have well been aware of. For
example, the Austrian-born British designer Gaby Schreiber had already
argued in the early 1950s for the creation of
Nederveen Pieterse, White on Black: Images of
Africa and Blacks in Western PopularCulture ( New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press,
1992); and Marianna Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects,
Modern Lives ( Chicago, Ill. :
University of Chicago Press, 1991).
Thedering, Sunlight as Healer , pp.
24, 28; and Bryder