This installation is a collection of documents that afford various impressions of the left-wing political, economic, and artistic life in Pittsburgh, from the communist movements of the 1920s, to the union rallies of the 1930s, to the Red Scare of the 1950s.
Past Project Yevgeniy Fiks: Andy Warhol and The Pittsburgh Labor Files
October 10, 2015–January 10, 2016
Installed as several boxes filled with archives collected by U.S.-based, Russian artist Yevgeniy Fiks, it comprises dozens of photographs, printouts, PDF files, and books, including a government’s report on communist activities in Pittsburgh, images of artworks by Andy Warhol’s art professors at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University), and first-person accounts of race and labor relations.
The pieces are displayed on the museum’s seventh floor, which presents the early decades of Warhol’s life, including an emphasis on his working-class, European immigrant family in depression-era Pittsburgh. This display does not contain any documents related to Warhol or his family, it does capture the persistent political strain of proletarian life in the city at that time. Though Warhol’s career after his arrival in New York City in 1949 has more in common with the rampant and entrepreneurial individualism of post-war America than the collectivization of socialist activism, this project presents various cultural waves that may have shaped and ultimately informed the artist’s diverse and complex history. He would later incorporate numerous symbols of communism, from his Mao and Hammer & Sickle portraits of the 1970s to his 1986 portraits of Lenin.
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 dialogue in the West, for example, his project Lenin for Your Library?, in which he mailed Vladimir Lenin’s text “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” to 100 global corporations as a donation for their corporate libraries. His work has been exhibited widely, including at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City; and Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon.