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Dreaming Walls.
February 3, 2011 7:11 AM   Subscribe

"In a small, remote village in the Udmurt Republic of Russia, photographer Lucia Ganieva discovered a wonderful anomaly in home decoration — the interiors of practically every home in the village feature room-size photographic murals of 'exotic' scenes, which symbolize the distant places that the home-dwellers will never visit, except in their dreams." Via wood s lot.
posted by languagehat (33 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are really popular in Hungary.
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:18 AM on February 3, 2011


i want a giant wrist-watch-wall-clock! thanks for the link!
posted by anya32 at 7:22 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My parents have a huge floor to ceiling mural of some mountain in the alps or somewhere in their basement (in Virginia), seriously like 12 feet wide. It was something the previous owners did that we never got an explanation for, maybe they were Udmurtian.
posted by ghharr at 7:31 AM on February 3, 2011


So a nearby Sears portrait studio liquidated?
posted by sourwookie at 7:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Before I started scrolling through the pictures I was expecting to see surrealistic landscapes and odd juxtapositions of dreaming subconsciousnesses. The actual murals just might be as transporting all the same.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 AM on February 3, 2011


I was picturing the dorm room in "Real Genius" myself...
posted by inthe80s at 7:40 AM on February 3, 2011


I put up my dream mural, guests don't like going into that room now. not that they have a choice...
posted by FatherDagon at 7:43 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


These are also present in many of the Indian restaurants near me. My favourite which has Princess Diana's giant head floating over a exotic landscape does indeed symbolize "the distant places that the home-dwellers will never visit, except in their dreams."
posted by rhymer at 7:58 AM on February 3, 2011


This was popular in the US in the 1970s. I guess Udmurt is 50 years behind the times?
posted by JJ86 at 8:06 AM on February 3, 2011


Soooo...interior decoration there stalled around 1968-1972 or so?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:10 AM on February 3, 2011


Popular in a lot of eastern Europe. But contrary to their claim that these pictures depict exotic places which the owners would never visit, most of them seem to have fairly 'local' flora and fauna, just presented in a sort of idealised manner.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:10 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, maybe two-thirds of them, at any rate.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2011


And I know nothing about Udmurt, other than its basic location and some sense of how isolated its residents must be, geographically and trend-wise. But I've seen similarly kitschy decor in my native country (Bosnia), Poland, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, etc, and while I can recognise this as seeming out-of-date and odd by Western standards, I've been in many homes like this and have come to understand a few things.

One, that many people take great pride in the photographic murals, which brighten their lives and are (relative to income) quite luxurious to them. Fashion isn't and need not adhere to some sort of international standard.

Two, that given equivalent disposable incomes and access to the 'right' products, these people would likely display a fashion / decoration sense that would put Westerners to shame. There are loads of women all across eastern Europe who dress with more style, flair, sexiness and elegance than 99% of women in America, and they do it on a budget of about $10 a month. So there, affluent elitists!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Dee, you seem to be responding to a sense of contempt that neither the linked site nor my post conveys. I'm as impressed as Casper is (and presumably Ganieva as well) by the decorative sense of the inhabitants. No need to be so defensive ("affluent elitists"??).
posted by languagehat at 8:39 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


For context.

There's some photos of the Udmurt region most of the way down the page.
posted by philip-random at 8:54 AM on February 3, 2011


Have I ever shown you my dream wall?
posted by orme at 8:57 AM on February 3, 2011


Dee, you seem to be responding to a sense of contempt that neither the linked site nor my post conveys.

Oh no, I wasn't saying that! In fact, I like posts like these a lot. I was replying to the comments by JJ86 and Thorzdad, who appear to see those walls through culturally myopic eyes. If you read my post as a response to them, this should be clear, but obviously, it could have been clearer!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:08 AM on February 3, 2011


I have to say, I wouldn't mind that flowery one mural, the one that also has that rad wristwatch wall clock.

When I was a kid we rented an apartment from a lady with a very flamboyant decorating style. One huge wall was covered in floor to ceiling mirrors, and another wall was decorated with one of these murals. It was of a garden, and I spent many a morning spacing out in front of it while eating breakfast.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2011


She should take these photos and turn them into wall-sized photomurals so that every day, those of us stuck in [insert the developed country of your choice] can visualize that distant Udmurt we will never visit, that exists only in our dreams.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 9:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The photos themselves are not as interesting to me as they could be. I wish they weren't cropped to the mural; I think seeing more of the room containing the mural would have added more context and made them more than just a bunch of pictures of photo murals.
posted by dhalgren at 9:36 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Act Three. Have Paint, Will Travel.

Milton Reid works as a freelance muralist in one of the largest housing projects in America, Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. For fifty to two hundred dollars, he'll paint a mural on a resident's living room wall, or in their kitchen, or in the bathroom. He explains that when he first started, all his clients wanted were black and gold panthers, but their tastes have gotten more varied. (8 minutes)
posted by Jahaza at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Two, that given equivalent disposable incomes and access to the 'right' products, these people would likely display a fashion / decoration sense that would put Westerners to shame. There are loads of women all across eastern Europe who dress with more style, flair, sexiness and elegance than 99% of women in America, and they do it on a budget of about $10 a month. So there, affluent elitists!

Derr, I dunno. The amount of horrible leopardprint one sees on the Moscow subway is enough to convince me otherwise.
posted by nasreddin at 9:44 AM on February 3, 2011


When I was looking at houses last year, I saw several places (in the US, in Virginia) that had murals like this. They were mostly unrefurbished 1950s-60s homes, so it must have been in vogue sometime in that period or soon after.

These things tend to go in cycles, so the fact that it's out of vogue in the US doesn't really make me think that it's unstylish, just that Udmurt is apparently at a different part of the interior-decorating cycle than the US. In a few years they'll probably be tearing down the wallpaper and putting up ridiculous amounts of chair rail and crown molding and matte/semigloss vertical stripes.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:45 AM on February 3, 2011


horrible leopardprint = more style, flair, sexiness. Can't say that elegance is part of the mix there, but the first three, oh yeah.

My desktop has an image of an oil painting - Spring, Crimea, 1898 - that is my own personal dream wall. This image is very powerful to me. I can smell the air, the sea, the landscape, I can feel the wind and sun on my face when I look at it.
posted by Xoebe at 10:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The wood s lot quote in the OP comes across as kind of "LOLRussians" to me.

...photographer Lucia Ganieva discovered a wonderful anomaly in home decoration...

I don't see how this is much different from hanging a landscape painting, other than the scale. It's not even that different from having a window with a nice view. People have been decorating their homes with pretty views for a long time.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:27 AM on February 3, 2011


I think they're just ersatz-screensavers for people who don't have a computer.
posted by sour cream at 12:21 PM on February 3, 2011


> I think they're just ersatz-screensavers for people who don't have a computer.

They should paint flying toasters on their walls then.

Come to think of it, I know what I'm doing this weekend!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on February 3, 2011


There are loads of women all across eastern Europe who dress with more style, flair, sexiness and elegance than 99% of women in America, and they do it on a budget of about $10 a month.

It helps that they're genetically blessed with better looks to begin with, Latvians especially. And Lithuanians, just so I don't get into strife with the missus.

Also, wood s lot is one of the best things in the entire internet.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dee said: Oh no, I wasn't saying that! In fact, I like posts like these a lot. I was replying to the comments by JJ86 and Thorzdad, who appear to see those walls through culturally myopic eyes.

Maybe we'll know in ten years when and if ceiling fans become popular in every home in Udmurt.

Seriously, the photographer's assumptions that the wall art "...symbolize the distant places that the home-dwellers will never visit, except in their dreams." seems more suspect from a culturally sensitive viewpoint than any comments in this thread. Can you make the assumption that American's use of the same wall art in the 1970s was for the same reasons? Maybe the Udmurti use it for the same reasons as anyone else - it's commonly available, pretty, and covers the holes in their walls.
posted by JJ86 at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2011


Can you make the assumption that American's use of the same wall art in the 1970s was for the same reasons?

If the wall art depicted scenes outside of the US, then yes, it's quite safe to assume that most of them would never visit those places.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:33 PM on February 3, 2011


I've seen two of those murals in the US - one of a tropical beach scene, as seen from up on some jungle hillside (there are tropical plants framing the scene, and your perspective is well above the beach), the other a full wall of forest trees. The tropical scene was in coastal California, and the forest in North Carolina.

Amusingly, neither scene is too different from the scenery in the general area of those homes, but rather they're idealized versions, right in your own home. In fact, that's in keeping with Dee's thought that those European scenes were of 'local' flora and fauna.

I am a big fan of those scenes, especially when a bit faded with time, but I also like old wood paneling.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:32 PM on February 3, 2011


Kadin2048, pic #4 was on one wall of the dining hall at the base I was stationed at in '75. Funny to see it there also...
posted by JB71 at 7:37 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool. Everyone should have a garden in their home. I especially like this one taro that makes multiple appearances.

I too wish there was more context. I'd like to see these across the room, for example. And with their owners sitting on the chairs.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:40 PM on February 3, 2011


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