Four short links: the Stalin era

1. Stalinka: Digital Archive of Staliniana. Lots of images (593 to be precise), including photos, posters, paintings, cartoons, and even a few pictures from the Blue Noses Group’s 2007 Naked Truth series (if you’ve never seen them, and aren’t easily offended, do take a look). Those works notwithstanding, I’m somewhat dubious about the concept of Staliniana, which implies we all want to have a bit of a laugh about Stalinist kitsch, but the library itself is more sensible than the title suggests, and there is some useful and interesting stuff here.

2. The Stalin Project. Aimed at high school students, including lesson plans and handouts, the aims of this site are probably quite laudable, but I’m afraid it’s here so I can have a go at it. The main problem is that it could have been written 40-odd years ago –there’s no attempt whatsoever to incorporate recent developments in historiography etc. Stalinist subjectivity, anyone? It gives a strong impression that the Cold War’s still going on, and one suspects it’s actually aimed at teaching our children about the evils of communism, not about Russian history. Plus it’s not very well maintained — broken links here and there, and it’s only two years old.

3. 65 years after the Leningrad Blockade. In contrast, this is an extraordinary, thoughtful project, and even though the site’s in Russian, you really do not need to be able to speak any Russian to be moved by these pictures of contemporary St Petersburg overlaid with photos taken in the same spots during the Siege of Leningrad. A really amazing way of visualizing the historical process and the combination of continuity and change. There’s also a blockade diary written by a young boy.

4. Excursion to Gulag. Elena Filatova is a biker with a camera and an interesting line in photoreportage. Her work includes a number of projects on Soviet ruins, most notably some remarkable pictures of Chernobyl (see her homepage for links to these and others). ‘Excursion to Gulag’ contains an evocative set of photos of abandoned labour camps.

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