Sandum Art History: Remembrance Day as a Case-Study

Over the years, Sandus has celebrated Remembrance Day as its one of its most festive national holidays. The first celebration of Remembrance Day comes from 2010 during the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Sandus. Since then, however, the holiday has grown in importance relative to other holidays which have begun to be celebrated, including the holidays commemorating the creation of Sandus and the secession and foundation of the present-day government of the State of Sandus. Since the adoption of Philia, as a policy of pragmatic yet independent policies for cultural development, the holiday has grown into a broader celebration of the Lemuria — originally an ancient Roman festival to the dead that is now associated in Sandus with those who have passed away before their time, whether by violence or illness or any other cause of tremendous suffering. Remembrance Day is celebrated on 9 May, chosen in 2010 because the holiday coincides with Victory Day in the former Soviet Union, though today the Sandum Remembrance Day is seen as a separate yet related holiday; the Lemuria overlaps Remembrance Day, and lasts from 7 to 15 May.

The images produced this year are predominantly the authorship of Alexander Reinhardt,  Jacopo Castelletti, though one image is by C. Sörgel. The focus of these propaganda posters is predominantly on Soviet themes and they depict the coat of arms of Sandus at the time. The words used on the poster are repeated.

In the upheaval of the Foundation of the State of Sandus in April 2011, no new propaganda posters were used during the holiday, though the traditions established in 2010 — such as watching the Moscow Red Square parade and musical traditions — were reaffirmed and developed further.

In an effort to mirror both the style used by Castelletti in 2010 and to differentiate Sandum art from others micronational forms of art, 2012’s propaganda posters reflect themes of order, bravery, courage, and sacrifice. Though emphasis is still placed on the Soviet Red Army, some pictures make more generic reference with subtle Soviet influence. The banner poster depicting the Sandum coat of arms with the St. George’s ribbon in front of the eternal flame at the Moscow Kremlin and with the slogan “Eternal Glory to the Victors!” is still used today in Sandum celebrations of Remembrance Day in 2015. The emblem of the Sandum coat of arms atop a fluttering St. George’s ribbon, as well, will be an enduring emblem of the holiday and is still used today in 2015. The number of individual posters in 2012 is at its greatest, and the best explanation for this is that this is the year — after 2011 when the State of Sandus was established — when Realism was established and focus was first being heavily placed on cultural development; in an effort to find a “Sandum style,” more posters were created.

The images from 2013 focus much less on Soviet themes and, instead, on abstract depictions of the holiday through memorials and the Sandum matron, Athena. There is a conscious move away from depictions of individual people and the use of historical photos and, instead, a focus on memorials and statues, with text of the images placed in bare and simple backgrounds, rather than following the shape of main figures which are in focus. In this year, the first postcard for the holiday was produced — combined with Independence Day celebrations on 26 May.

In 2014, only one poster was published, along with another postcard celebrating five years of Sandus. This year’s artwork could be considered a consolidation of the artistic convention of using out of focus and abstract depictions to provide a focus on colours and on light in an image, as well as to provide an apt background to capture the words used in the poster’s title or in any slogans. As well, the holiday takes a representation form, as like that found in 2013’s artwork and holiday card: Remembrance Day is represented by the colour red and by the traditional St. George’s ribbon.

Due to budget cuts that took effect January 2015, no holiday card was made for Remembrance Day 2015. Insistence is still placed on abstract, focusless images in which representations of Remembrance Day are made to the St. George’s ribbon, though an element of the Russian celebration of Victory Day is found in the emblem which reads “70 лет Победы” or “70 years of Victory.” This year’s poster commemorates 70 years since the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945, though it is similar to the 2014 holiday card in that there is an emphasis on the Sandum national colours of blue and white, rather than the traditional Remembrance Day colours of red, gold, orange, and dark grey. Considering the number of posters, this year’s celebration is at its least: depicting the affirmation and acceptance of “traditional” Sandum artistic conventions for a lack of focus, a focus on nature, and for abstractions preferred over the human form.