New East Digital Archive

Agitpoezda: discover Russia’s revolutionary propaganda trains

Agitpoezda: discover Russia's revolutionary propaganda trains
A photo of the Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya propaganda train, 1920. People queue to enter a wagon designed to educate locals on disease prevention. Image: Na Shalobovke Gallery.

23 November 2017

When revolution swept Russia in 1918, Communist party officials faced a unique problem: spreading revolutionary fervour across the country’s vast expanses in an age of mass illiteracy.

The answer came in the form of special trains — or agitpoezda (агитпоезда) — dedicated to delivering the best of the new Soviet culture to the masses. From 1918 to 1922, 19 trains travelled the length of the country, providing the proletariat with books, theatre performances, exhibitions and film showings. Brightly decorated under the direction of celebrated graphic designer Ignaty Nivinsky, the trains often acted as cinemas or art galleries on wheels, spreading the work of Russia’s Symbolist and avant-garde artists.

Now, a new exhibition at Moscow’s Na Shalobovke Gallery is looking in depth at the propaganda trains’ unique social and political role for the first time. Photos, banners, books, and films will be used to explore the trains’ place in Russia’s Civil War, combining pieces from private collections and the State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia.

Agitpozeda is showing at Moscow’s Na Shalobovke Gallery from 22 November – 21 January. For more information (in Russian), see here.