Rodchenko and Popova Defining Constructivism exhibition banner

Rodchenko’s film projects also included Lev Kuleshov’s The Female Journalist 1927, a romantic story that poked fun at the bourgeois culture which developed under the New Economic Policy. As well as designing sets, Rodchenko helped to select the camera angles and framing that would determine how these environments were represented on screen. He considered these innovative designs as a way of presenting and popularising his ideas about urban living and interior design. The newspaper’s editorial office was decorated with Constructivist furniture and lamps. The living quarters of a journalist who worked for a bureau called the Scientific organisation of Labour were – like the workers Club (in room 12) – a study in multifunction efficiency. The bed folded up into a cupboard, while the desk incorporated a number of detachable components for maximum flexibility, a built-in radio and lightbox for viewing slides.

Like Popova’s involvement in theatre, Rodchenko approached film as a collaborative art form that could genuinely reach out to the masses. But both ventures were ultimately an acknowledgment of failure, recognising that the Constructivist dreams of reshaping social space could only be realised within the limited parameters of the stage or the cinema screen.