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Humanity Rearranged: The Polish and Czechoslovak Pavilions at Expo 58

David Crowley
West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture
Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2012), pp. 88-105
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Bard Graduate Center
DOI: 10.1086/665683
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665683
Page Count: 18
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Humanity Rearranged: The Polish and Czechoslovak Pavilions at Expo 58
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Abstract

Expo 58, the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958, set exhibitors the challenge of producing a better world in the terms of postwar humanism. In the aftermath of the Second World War and Stalinism, this was identified as an urgent task. Yet some critics from Western Europe viewed the spectacular display techniques—often derived from innovative forms of cinema—as contributing to the alienation of modern life. Spectacle served to screen injustice. This paper explores the ways in which novel exhibition techniques exploited by Czechoslovak and Polish designers in their schemes for Expo 58 can be understood not as distraction but as part of a new political project to produce active citizens in Eastern Europe during the de-Stalinizing thaw.

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