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Soviet Ellipses

Omissions as Techniques of Border Transgression in Photography, Literature, and Everyday Life.

Image of two women crossing a street.

Photo: Vera Faber

About the project

“Soviet Ellipses” (SOVEL) deals with the creation and representation of ellipses (i.e. conscious omissions) in Soviet photography, literature, and everyday life.

It sets out from the premise that the significant accumulation of omission practices during Soviet times (1917–1991) did not occur by accident, but rather served as a subversive strategy to undermine censorship, political repressions, and the restriction of expression, which had been dominating the Soviet society for so long.

By bringing together Literary Studies, Border Studies, Image Theory, Cultural Semiotics, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) the research examines the making, the accumulation, the function, and the creative power of ellipses with regard to different media and in a diachronic and comparative scope.


The main objective of the project is to demonstrate how ellipses function as techniques that challenge (constructed symbolic) borders. It focuses on techniques of creation at the level of creative production and representation, and aims to reframe our understanding of cultural (counter) practices within Soviet society.


Relevant Links

Interview: In Soviet society, freedom of speech was never on offer



01.11.2021 to 31.10.2023

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101024131.

The EU-flag. 12 stars on a blue blackground.

Published Apr. 6, 2022 10:56 AM - Last modified Aug. 17, 2022 12:39 PM