Monday, January 28, 2013

Peter Turnley photographs the last days before the collapse of the USSR

These beautiful photographs by Peter Turnley taken in the USSR in 1991 make me oddly nostalgic for life under socialism. So many unforgettable moments and indescribable characters. Flashing back to waiting in line to buy bread and being terrified by the sales-ladies. SCARY.

There more photographs from this series HERE.


  1. Yes. Socialism is an art that no artist can ever imagine. Like a classic tragedy you would like to see but never to participate in.

    1. That was EXACTLY my point. One has to see it to believe it but also... quite understandable if you prefer to pass. ;)

  2. Thank you, Petya, for this post! These pics are deff worth a look, but your comment about "nostalgia" for life under socialism made me ache inside for a bit. I know what you mean by saying this, there is this special flavour to pics of this character which make us, kids of post-socialist countries, feel sort of at home, crave our childhood. But everything socialist is what makes out countries, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, be in the dire state they currently are, and make people inactive, unable, lost... I guess you speak Russian and would recommend a couple of movies which show Russia towards the end of Socialism, they made me feel broken inside:
    Gruz 200
    Juriev den

    I am more than sure they are available on the internet as most Russian movies are.

    1. Antonia,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I am very sensitive to the fact that some of my posts may be perceived as naively romanticizing communism. I begin every posts here with the presumption that the soviet regime was devastating to so many for so many reasons. But, as uncomfortable as that makes me, I am very drawn to the cultural production of the period. I continue to write about Eastern Europe because I think we are now barely beginning to have multi-layered discussions about our socialist heritage. I am particularly interested in stories about the ways in which governmental officials worked with artists and intellectuals to advance the soviet agenda while also creating space for creative autonomy.

      I will be sure to look up the films you reference!