Five Minute Time Machine

Main photo: Discussion at the exhibition “Surikov, 31”. 1987. by A. Shaburov

I am writing about the exhibitions of Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg), which took place in 1987-89, it was so recent by the standards of history, only 33-35 years ago. But I am mesmerized by this five-minute video, which is like a time machine sending me to another era. And everything is different, from the language spoken to the visual language used in this video. The video tells us about the first experimental exhibition of Sverdlovsk artists “Surikov, 31,” an iconic exhibition of 1987 that broke the siege around underground authors.

The more I explored this time and when I started writing, I realized I was writing about today. Everything rhymed in an amazing way: from the death of Gorbachev, who made all of this possible at the time, to the nonconformist artists themselves, who a few decades later suddenly turn out to be even more conformist, the growing censorship and the lost freedom of expression and experimentation for which they fought so hard.

This video encapsulates for me the important thesis that in all of these perestroika exhibitions, communication was paramount, and it is no coincidence that the short subject ends with the words: “A time for free conversation, a time for free discussion”.

Two important characters can be heard in the video: Valery Dychenko, an artist and one of the organizers of the exhibition, and Georgy Zaitsev, one of the masters of the Ural school of art history.

Russian and English subtitles are added to the video. Video was cut from the newsreel “Soviet Ural”, issue № 15 for 1987, the full video is freely available on YouTube.

Newsreel “Soviet Ural. 1987 г. №15. The exhibition “Surikov, 31”

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