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The exhibition
"USSR – through years. Small things of the big country"


20 April - 14 May 2006

20 years have passed since the gallery was founded. The anniversary is celebrated by an interesting retro-exhibition "USSR - through years. Small things of a big country" (the epoch of 50-60-s). The opening will take place on April 20th, 2006. It invites you to make an enthralling tour in the remote past. The exposition is formed by artefacts, series of black-and-white photography, pieces of furniture, garments, articles of household and works of painting and graphic arts.

A great assistance in the organization was rendered by the Moscow Technical Museum. A considerable amount of material objects was given for the exhibition from its collection. Art galleries and private persons have also participated in the forming of the exposition. The antique store "Among collectors" has exhibited its collection of Soviet art porcelain and glass-work. The gallery "Baboushka" has represented a variety of antique objects. Private collections and family archives delivered a marvellous retrospect of works of graphic arts by Honoured artist of RSFSR Yuri Mogilevsky, artists Tatiana Ostolskaya, Nadezhda Ostolskaya, Lyudmila Pronicheva, Samuil Umansky.

The project isn't commercial, while working it out the curators and organizers didn't think of cost-effectiveness, the motives were different. A renascence of enthusiasm for that ambiguous period - the epoch of 50-60-s - takes place in modern society, and it has made the exhibition actual. This time hasn't come out of dreams, it is our distant reality, and its things carry its signs.

The organizers wished to show the mode and style of life of common Soviet people in first postwar years - the time of flourishing and uplift of the country, to show it without ideology, though they couldn't leave the theme completely. Ideology stands by necessarily, as the epoch itself was too ideologized.

During the past half a century the history of our country has suffered not a few cataclysms, after the global thaw of the political climate came cooling. But since the art of living is created by the epoch, and each epoch has its own history, the genre of the exhibition has a more complicated dramaturgy of appealing to reality: through routine and household mode of life to understanding the core of the processes, which took place in the society. Modern generation has its own emotions towards the 50-60th years of the past century, especially now, when USSR is gone, and our life has changed completely, in the first place in Moscow, which concentrates our memory. Many signs and symbols of Moscow of that time have disappeared: hotel "Moskva" does not exist, one cannot recognize the Manezh square, and only in old movies one can see the cinema of repeated film, the automobile "Pobeda", containers with carbonated water, china umbrellas and many other things. The flea market on Tishinka has disappeared, too. Moscovites liked it and went there not only to buy rarities, but to get cheap clothes and merely to spend time.

But some people do remember the Moscow of those past years. If one makes an effort, Moscow forecourts revive in memory. This memory has born the idea to return to those years, to remember and show true things that formed that life, to look at it through the prism of time, to feel warmth and sorrow by touching it.

Like in montage the whole picture was made up of scattered fragments of time - snippets of recollection, archival and literary sources, fotodocuments and shots of news films.

The movers of the project aimed at reconstructing that time through their understanding of history, their own priorities, feeling of the time's fragrance and its canons, through everyday things and photographs of real people. It was not the setting that interested them most, but the cultural and historical context of that period. The task was to show with the help of usual things the unique atmosphere and mood of the epoch of 50-60-s, which would be later called "Khruschyov's thaw".

Genuine antique well-preserved furniture: chest of drawers, a round table with a cloth on it, a bed with a valance, a bookcase with curtains, behind which editions of 50-s and 60-s are kept - carries us away in that time. And what a marvel is the two-leaf wardrobe with a looking-glass. A lot of mysteries and unbelievable discoveries are lurking in its bosom: dresses made after fashion of that time, bags, shoes, hats and coats.

And, though the curators' position was not quite utilitarian, there was a picturesque flea market in small in the exhibition: embroidered napkins, dolls, irons, busts of the leaders of the world proletariat, cassettes, vases, furnishing, plaques and many other things. Regarding the Soviet past through the prism of household things and artefacts - reconstructed material traces of life and their own individual values - the organizers of the exhibition expected a dialogue with the spectator. That was one of the conceptions: to complement most specific symbols of the epoch - attributes of shared apartment household, "pioneer room", "red corner"(a room meant for communist propaganda) - by the reaction of thinking people, fragile recollections and personalized feelings, converting "historical refuse" into works of art.

Because just of these typical objects, symbolizing the epoch, and just of these recollections the image of that country was made up. And the dramaturgy of the exhibition is built in such a way that household mode of life and old traditions reign in the beginning, and in the midpoint the Country overpowers - motherland, in which one felt warm and homey - the country one will always remember, our motherland - USSR.

Lyudmila Chekalina, curator
Art critic
Member of Creative Union Of Russian Artists

Translated by Lyubov Kuzmina



























Photographer Rudolf Kostousov




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