Parallel worlds

The history of the Einem chocolate factory virtually has been intertwined with the images from the beginning until now, from the early Russian billboards through the promotional postcards to 2010 when in the vacant building of the factory (in the meantime baptized Red October) they opened the largest center of Moscow’s photographif life, the Центр фотографии имени братьев Люмьер, the Lumière Brothers Photo Center and Gallery. Here they organize the most spectacular photo exhibitions of the Russian capital, on which we also often give news. A most recent one of them was Mikhail Dashevsky’s Обыденное. Жизнь в Москве. 1962-2002 “Everyday. Life in Moscow, 1962-2002”.

The eighty-five photos of the exhibition were selected from Dashevsky’s eponymous album, published for the Moscow book fair in September 2011, at the same time of the opening of the exhibition.

The dates are not relevant in every photographer’s life, but in Dashevsky’s they are very much. He was born in 1935 in Moscow. Two years later his father fell victim to Stalin’s purges. He was rehabilitated only in 1953, after Stalin’s death, which was enough to admit the 18 year old Mikhail to the technical college. Beginning with the early 60s he regularly photographed everyday life in Moscow, and learned in the important Новатор, “Innovator” photo club, founded in 1961 by the renowned masters Alexander Khlebnikov and Georgiy Soshalsk, but until 1985 only one of this photos was published in print. No wonder that his first exhibition was organized with the title “Power” on the public symbols of power and the people around them in the late 1980s.

On the present exhibition, however, those photos are on display which were born almost occasionally during the forty years of their author’s walking in Moscow, and which show his relationship to power in a different way. As Irina Chmyrneva writes in her beautiful essay on Dashevsky:

“Dashevsky as a photographer was grown up in the world of non-official photography, and learned the art in the Novator photo club. The age of non-official photography was the period of cultural self-determination when the artists faced two doors, opening to the official and non-official way. Whoever chose one of them could no longer step through the other. Even among the artists those few who were able to simultaneously proceed on both were looked upon as a wizard who can go through the wall, and among the photographers there were almost no such ones: the choice of subject, the setting of the camera which followed the photographer’s eye, unquestionably bore witness to the “non-official” point of view. The age of parallel worlds created a particular way to those who chose the non-official path, the way of the creation non influenced by the censor. Along this way even the very subjects chosen were similar to those “little red flags” used at wolf hunting, which prevented these artists from breaking into the area of official art. In the 1960-80s the Novator was the center where new, serious artists could be educated at the hands of the heirs of the photographic tradition of the 1920s and 30s.”

These pictures show that world of decaying old houses, courtyards, workers’ quarters with attention, compassion and love, which did not exist in contemporary photo albums, and where foreigners could not even set foot. The dropped-behind Moscow, the disappeared Arbat, where Dashevsky grew up and which was also sang about by Aksenev and Okudzhava.

Bulat Okudzsava: Песенка об Арбате (Little song about the Arbat)

Ты течешь как река странное название
И прозрачен асфальт как в реке вода
Ах Арбат мой Арбат ты мое призвание
Ты и радость моя и моя беда

Пешеходы твои люди невеликие
Каблучками стучат по делам спешат
Ах Арбат мой Арбат ты моя религия
Мостовые твои подо мной лежат

От любови твоей вовсе не излечишься
Сорок тысяч других мостовых любя
Ах Арбат мой Арбат ты мое отечество
Никогда до конца не пройти тебя
You flow like a river of a strange name
and your asphalt is transparent like water
oh Arbat, my Arbat, you’re my vocation
and you’re my joy and sorrow.

Your pedestrians are no powerful people
their heels knock as they rush for their job
oh Arbat, my Arbat, you’re my religion
your alleys lay under my feet.

From their love I cannot be cured
by the love of forty thousand other alleys
oh Arbat, my Arbat, you’re my heritage
it's impossible to go through you all the way to the end.

5 comentarios:

languagehat dijo...

A few corrections for the translation: Пешеходы is not "passengers" but "pedestrians," подо мной лежат is "under (not "in front of") my feet," and Никогда до конца не пройти тебя is "It's impossible to go through you all the way to the end," not "I will never leave you till the end."

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks, Language, as always. Corrected.

Dominique dijo...

Certaines de ces photos, les cours en particulier me rappellent le nord de la France et Roubaix en particulier où j'ai vécu durant la moitié de ma vie. J'ai particulièrement aimé ce temps-là et elles ont disparu également depuis.

Dominique dijo...

De retour sur cette page pour vous remercier, je constate que j'étais "particulièrement" émue :-) le jour où j'ai laissé ce message. La mémoire qu'il a ramenée est physiologique, porteuse de vie et d'amour. Merci.

Studiolum dijo...

Merci, Dominique. Oui, je suis aussi ému quand je regarde ces photos. Ils rappellent le monde où j’ai grandi, la Budapest des années 1970 y 1980, dont les ombres et odeurs ont été inscrits en moi, et qui a disparu également depuis. Une notre mémoire commune, à une distance de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres. Merci à toi.