Socialist Realism by the Banks of the Mekong

Languid, land-locked Laos, last frontier of the cold war, innocent victim of meddlesome neighbours and predatory super-powers, is an unlikely setting for the imperial twilight of an essentially European art form. And yet, here by the banks of the mighty Mekong and there by the stone-age burial urns of the Plain of Jars, long after its demise in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the school of art known as 'Socialist Realism'has undergone a very Laotian change.

Laos was just about the last country to join the 'socialist camp'. Soviet communism was established in Russia by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, whilst Mao's East Wind had prevailed in China by 1949. By contrast, when the Lao People's Democratic Republic was set up in 1975, riding on the coat-tails of the neighbouring Vietnamese revolution, socialism in Europe and the Soviet Union was already in a state of terminal decline...

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