Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Design

First Advisor

Dr. Maria Gindhart

Second Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Cleveland

Third Advisor

Dr. Juliette Apkarian


The subject of my thesis is Russian artist Alexandra Exter’s work in the performing arts, with a focus on her theatrical set and costume designs in the Kamerny Theater, her creations for Iakov

Protazanov’s 1924 science fiction film, Aelita, and finally her exquisitely fabricated set of approximately forty marionettes. Within these colorful wooden figures are reconciled conflicting notions of stasis and dynamism, sculpture and performer, human and object. Drawing upon Victor Shklovskiĭ’s formalist definition of “enstrangement,” I examine her introduction of the object in place of the human performer as a means of exposing the creative process, forcing the viewer to actively engage with the production. Thus, her manipulation and eventual replacement of the human performer not only exemplifies the interconnectivity and mutability of Russian avant-garde art, but impels the viewer to reconsider the familiar in terms of the strange, ultimately calling attention to the humanity of the dehumanized performer.