This exhibition examines one of the dominant concerns of Soviet unofficial artists—and citizens everywhere—during the Cold War: the consequences of innovation in science, technology, mathematics, communications, and design. Juxtaposing art made in opposition to state-sanctioned Socialist Realism with artifacts from the Soviet nuclear and space programs, Hot Art in a Cold War touches upon the triumphs and tragedies unleashed as humankind gained the power to both leave the Earth and to destroy it.
As science became a proxy battlefield for the struggle between the USSR and the United States, the Soviet space program achieved a long string of successes, including launching the first artificial satellite, first animal, first human, and first space station into orbit. This exhibition features artifacts representing these breakthroughs, including an unlaunched backup of Sputnik, a replica of the spacesuit worn by the first space dog Laika, and equipment from the Salyut space station program. The darker side of this Cold War competition is seen in examples of nuclear fallout equipment and specimens from Chernobyl.