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Retro Russia
April 21, 2008 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Soviet Museum has some great retro photography, industrial, postcards, propaganda, "Soviet Union" magazine, aspects of moscow, red army, etc [did I mention erotic too?]. It even has 'Vladimir Putin Favourite Places' (which as far as I can tell, is one place). Set aside some time if this sort of thing interests you.
posted by tellurian (20 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
pig is drunk
posted by joelf at 10:19 AM on April 21, 2008


In Soviet Russia, photographs look at you.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2008


'Vladimir Putin Favourite Places' (which as far as I can tell, is one place)
Krasnaya Polyana is an urban-type settlement under the jurisdiction of Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. ... The resort is slated to host the snow events (alpine and nordic) of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Yeah, I think the part I bolded has more to do with its being featured than whatever it is Putin "really" likes (aside from power and repression).

And speaking of Sochi, man, those pictures don't look like the dumpy place I spent eleven hellish days in back in 1971. Our choices were: 1) hang out on the uncomfortable pebble beach with a bunch of Poles, East Germans, and other beer-bellied citizens of fraternal socialist nations, or 2) stay in our hotel room and play canasta. We chose the latter.

Er, but never mind my grumpy reminiscences—this is a great site. Thanks, tellurian!
posted by languagehat at 10:24 AM on April 21, 2008


In post Soviet Russia, Vladimir Putin doesn't like YOU.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on April 21, 2008


Either I just read wabbittwax's response unenthusiastically, or that meme is now completely over. Or maybe it was just the delivery.

I love the industrial ones. You could swap out "industrial" for "Any 70's sci-fi movie" and they'd hold up just as well.
posted by cashman at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2008


Soviet women sport socialist bush. [NSFW]

Also, could someone who speaks Russian translate this set of pictures? I'd be interested to see the rationale behind showing Americans protesting the US government, since, presumably, the Soviet viewer's inability to protest their own government wouldn't have been lost on them.

Also, Yoko Ono.
posted by Avenger at 10:43 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, could someone who speaks Russian translate this set of pictures? I'd be interested to see the rationale behind showing Americans protesting the US government, since, presumably, the Soviet viewer's inability to protest their own government wouldn't have been lost on them.

Well, this was the late '80s, and by that time no one was bothering to enforce any kind of ideological points--Glasnost was already implemented, and no one would have been fooled anyway.

But in general the Soviets loved to play the "look how bad the Americans have it, them's yer cultural contradictions of capitalism right there" game.
posted by nasreddin at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2008


It's also interesting that they use the term "Red Army"--after World War II the name was officially changed to "Soviet Army," and the old term wasn't used anymore except to evoke a kind of "those were the heroic Revolutionary days" nostalgia.
posted by nasreddin at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2008


Er, but never mind my grumpy reminiscences
Reminisce away. I thought of you when I came across this site. It's lovely that you turned up to share.
posted by tellurian at 10:54 AM on April 21, 2008


Nixie Tube overload. I don't know what it is, but it's gorgeous.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2008


Holy shit, thanks so much for this. I'm slightly obsessed with Communist iconography and Socialist Realism, so I'll probably be going through this site for hours. The propaganda link contains some awesome stuff, most of which I've never seen before. For all the many failings of Stalinism, it sure did produce some great art. Carry out the Five Year Plan, comrades!
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:02 PM on April 21, 2008


The propaganda link contains some awesome stuff, most of which I've never seen before. For all the many failings of Stalinism, it sure did produce some great art.

You only say that because it's exotic to you. Every time I see a giant brightly colored image of Lenin it fills me with an overwhelming sense of dreariness and decay.
posted by nasreddin at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lenin now makes me think of encroaching yuppyisation.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2008


You only say that because it's exotic to you. Every time I see a giant brightly colored image of Lenin it fills me with an overwhelming sense of dreariness and decay.

You're right, of course. When I say "some great art", I'm only talking about the form, not what it represents. I've also seen some great Chinese propaganda art advocating the Great Leap Forward and the One-Child Policy (this is one of my favorites), and while what they're advocating is monstrous, the images themselves are at least nice to look at. On the other hand, Fascist propaganda, particularly from Nazi Germany, is totally boring and pedestrian. WWII-era US propaganda is pretty hit-or-miss, with a few outstanding examples like Rosie The Riveter and "When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler".

The propaganda poster is kind of a lost art. I suppose it's because modern mass media like TV and radio are far more effective methods for propaganda. You'd think that the modern crypto-fascist US would at least be producing some great visual propaganda, but Fox News is more effective than posters.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:58 PM on April 21, 2008


You're right, of course. When I say "some great art", I'm only talking about the form, not what it represents. I've also seen some great Chinese propaganda art advocating the Great Leap Forward and the One-Child Policy (this is one of my favorites), and while what they're advocating is monstrous, the images themselves are at least nice to look at.

No, what I'm saying is they're only nice to look at if you aren't accustomed to the aesthetic. While there were some great Soviet propaganda posters (this is my favorite) they were only a tiny fraction of the total output. You have to remember that this shit was everywhere in the USSR, not just officially on posters but on textbooks, monuments, flyers, etc. If you spent enough time looking at them, you would come to dislike them as much as, say, tacky Burger King ads.
posted by nasreddin at 2:18 PM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have to agree with nasreddin—I think the esthetic effect of most Soviet propaganda art (especially those endless heroic images of Lenin) fades really quickly if you're exposed to them enough. That НЕ БАЛУЙ! one is great, though. (I think in this context it means 'Don't fool around,' 'Don't get up to monkey business,' but nasreddin will correct me if not.)
posted by languagehat at 5:02 PM on April 21, 2008


this shit was everywhere in the USSR, not just officially on posters but on textbooks
In fairytales too.
posted by tellurian at 5:58 PM on April 21, 2008


(I think in this context it means 'Don't fool around,' 'Don't get up to monkey business,' but nasreddin will correct me if not.)

Yeah, that's exactly it. What gets me is the absurdity of the scene, it's almost Dadaist. The young officer is holding a book entitled "The Great Patriotic War 1941-1945." Why? Is he reading it? The Jewish-looking capitalist is holding a bomb that says "Atomic Bomb." Why does he need a torch, then?!

In fairytales too.

There were lots of parodies of those. I like this one:

Lenin was standing in front of the mirror and shaving. A little boy was standing next to him and asking him questions. Lenin carefully closed his razor and answered the boy.

BUT HE COULD'VE SLICED HIM UP!
posted by nasreddin at 6:17 PM on April 21, 2008


No, what I'm saying is they're only nice to look at if you aren't accustomed to the aesthetic.

I see what you're saying. You have to understand, though, that growing up in the US during the Cold War, we were taught that the Communist countries were totally alien. It wasn't until I was older and had more access to information from the Internet and such that I even realized that citizens of Communist countries had lives, friends, went out to drink and have fun, and did everything else that humans do. From what I was taught, I pretty much thought they were robots who spent all of their time implementing Five Year Plans and hailing the virtues of the Glorious Comrade Stalin before an evening of calisthenics at the People's Recreation Center. So to me, even still, looking at this stuff is like viewing objects from an alien world. So yeah, you're absolutely right that I only like them because they're exotic, but that doesn't make them less interesting to me. I even thought that Soviet lemonade labels site from a while back was really neat.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:22 PM on April 21, 2008


Cool, tellurian. Thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on April 21, 2008


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