Czechoslovakia at the World’s Fairs Behind the Façade

Marta Filipová

Born in 1918, the First Czechoslovak Republic was keen to project a distinct image of the new state in others. Participation in World Fairs offered the perfect opportunity to make such an effort, which Czechoslovakia did not hesitate to seize. The comprehensive picture of Czechoslovak efforts at the largest international exhibition events of the interwar period is not, however, a mere survey of the national participation in world’s fairs in a chronological sequence. Marta Filipová looks beyond the sleek façade of the modernist pavilions to examine the intersections of architecture, art and design with commercial interests, state agendas, individual action and the public, and offers a complex insight into the production and reception of national displays.

The rich collection of images – mainly photographs – provides a closer look at the Czechoslovak pavilions. The design, content and context of the displays convey the idealized narrative, that was created for the fairs, and the myths on which the Czechoslovak nation and state were built. Heavy machinery, modern art, tourist destinations, or food and drink were presented as Czechoslovak, while many aspects of social life – particularly women or ethnic minorities – were strikingly underrepresented or absent. The book argues that the objects and ideas that the pavilion organizers put on display legitimized and validated the existence of the new state through the inclusion and exclusion of exhibits, people and ideas.

While the book focuses on Czechoslovakia, it also offers substantial insight into how other emerging new nations projected and sustained their image during this historical period and how interwar world’s fairs accommodated them.


Author: Aisseco

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