The choreography of labor

In response to yesterday’s lecture on movement I wanted to share some photographs which were part of early Taylorism studies. Frederick Winslow Taylor began developing his theories of scientific management in the 1880’s and 90’s America, centered around improving economic efficiency and labor productivity.

In the United State, Taylorism is usually lumped in with Fordism (with clear links to capitalism) but many Soviets of the 1920’s made direct connection between the work of Taylor and Marxism. Interesting that the this kind of activity of the interim-war period could be linked to such opposed ideologies .

Below is an excerpt which explains the Soviet fascination with Taylorism. The USSR’s TsIT (Central Institute of Labor) produced many beautiful photographs in a similar and relevant style.

Below is a excerpt from: The Charnel House Blog

The Constructivists’ goal to rationalize artistic labor and thus enter life can be traced to the early Soviet intellectual fascination with the Taylorist industrial theory of scientific management. As was covered in the previous section, American Taylorism exerted an influence throughout the European world of modernist art and architecture. However, the especially central role it played through its reception and dissemination in the Soviet Union warrants further contextual reflection. For the Soviet architectural avant-garde did not simply absorb the influence of Taylorism through its mediation by the Constructivists in art, but also directly from a number of academic sources as well. Taylorism was enthusiastically embraced in the USSR by many in the revolutionary intelligentsia and even some leading Bolsheviks, including Trotskii and Lenin himself. It was mostly popularized by writers like Osip Ermanksii and later advocates of the Scientific Organization of Labor  like the poet and factory worker Aleksei Gastev. Gastev was the founder and, from 1920 to 1937, the director of TsIT (Central Institute of Labor). TsIT was dedicated to the improvement of industrial efficiency. 

 

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