El Lissitzky New Man, Sportsmen, and Gravediggers, from Victory Over the Sun, 1923
In Moscow in 1920-21, El Lissitzky began working on a huge plan for a completely mechanical theatre. It was the most radical attempt to introduce Constructivist ideas into staging. In [a text] originally published as the foreword to his album of ten color lithographs issued in 1923, Lissitzky explained how this “electro-mechanical spectacle” was supposed to work. His conception reveals an excessively romantic attitude toward the machine. The engineer controls the whole set, which seemingly represents the universe; thanks to the machine, man can now take the place of God. Instead of actors, there are mechanically controlled figures.
It is significant that Lissitzky should have chosen as the demonstration of his mechanized stage a play by Alexei Kruchenikh, which had been presented in St. Petersburg in 1913 with a famous decor by Malevich. It was not particularly well suited to the new stage, but what probably impressed Lissitzky was the idea of man’s ability to dominate the sun by his technical mastery. This view of the development of the technolocal age was to reach its culmination (and hopefully its terminus) with the dropping of the atomic bomb.
(From catalog text for the exhibition, The Machine: As Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, curated K. G. Pontus Hultén at the Museum of Modern Art, 1968)
April, 1936: “I heard a couple of small boys say as they approached the library, ‘Let’s go into the library—I’m tired of that movie stuff.’”
December, 1936: “These are unusually interesting library days—busier, with more books to interest the people. It does not take the public long to discover that there are new books.”
September, 1938: “An amusing telephone call asked for the date on which Thanksgiving fell. It was on that date that her son first shaved himself and she was writing his biography. All a bit personal, but in this way the librarian keeps her pulse on the community.”
September, 1953: "We hear all sorts of philosophies and comments over the desk, but the one we liked for this hot weather month was from a woman who was looking over some books at the desk, and on seeing Rombauer’s "Joy of Cooking" remarked that she would much rather read a book on the joy of eating out."
October, 1957: “One young patron who had a fine to pay told us we could keep his friend for ‘evidence’ while he ran home to get the money. The friend was a little dismayed to think he might be the ‘bond’ until he was assured that it wouldn’t be necessary.”
February 1960: “A patron requested a book by an author named Swan—not sure of the title—something about investments. It turned out to be Barton Crane’s ‘The Sophisticated Investor.’ ‘I knew it was a bird!’, said the patron happily.”
Minneapolis Public Library Daily Happenings were recorded by branch managing librarians and submitted in monthly reports. Read more library stories from the MPL archive in Special Collections.
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