MIAMI BEACH, FL.- The Wolfsonian
Florida International University presents Youth in Uniform: Selections from the Gift of Steven Heller, an exhibition on view in the museums rare book and special collections li br ary vestibule through October 2009. Youth in Uniform was organized by The Wolfsonians chief li br arian, Frank Luca, and displays an outstanding collection of political propaganda from the twentieth century thanks to a generous gift made by prolific graphic design author Steven Heller. In preparing for his book, Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State, (Phaidon Press, 2008), Heller amassed a considerable body of rare books, periodicals, and ephemera produced by Italian Fascists, German National Socialists, and Soviet and Chinese Communists. Collectively, these materials make up the exhibition. According to Heller, " br anding totalitarian regimes is not as benign as br anding frozen peas, but the techniques used to build identity recognition are not dissimilar. The artifacts in this collection suggest that one borrowed from the other, although its not always clear which came firstpolitics or commerce."
The exhibition also highlights one area of strength from Hellers donation: propaganda aimed at the young. Totalitarian regimes from both political extremes forged powerful symbols and employed persuasive graphic artwork to indoctrinate the more naïve and susceptible younger members of their societies. Heller argues that all of these dictatorships created visual codes to appeal to a need among youth to belong to a club. Uniforms, badges, flags, and posters contributed to the cultish allure, not unlike the marketing campaigns that sell everything from music to soft-drinks aimed at youth today.
Materials from the collection can be accessed via the Internet at http://librarydisplays.wolfsonian.org/Youth%20in%20uniform/YOUTH.htm