Skiers, c. 1929
Arkadii Samojlowitsch Shaikhet (Ukrainian, 1898-1959) Gelatin silver print
Arkadii Shaikhet was a leader of the Russian Society of Proletarian Photographers (ROPF), a group formed during Joseph Stalin’s first Five Year Plan in opposition to Alexander Rodchenko and the October Association. ROPF members adopted eye-catching Constructivist methods of photographic abstraction such as bird’s-eye perspective and the tilted frame, but placed them in service of straightforwardly propagandistic, story-telling photographs. To produce this exposure, Shaikhet stepped back – or rather, up – from a winter-time military exercise in Red Square, thus giving spatial and social context to the abstract pattern spread out before his lens.