„Dunărea de Jos” University of Galaţi
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Between the Restorative Nostalgia and the Museum of the Ghosts of Utopia: Nostalgic Practices in Post-Soviet Cultural Landscape
Abstract: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, particularly during the hard transition of the 90s, the highly polarized Russian society revealed two main forms of remembering and coping with recent past. This past was either idealized as a time of imperial glory, national pride, and relative welfare, even if it also included periods of anomie (the late Stalin era) or stagnation (the Brejnev era), either treated as a period of significant traumas that necessitated persistent recognition and working through. As for the official memory regimes, if the first post-Soviet decade was dominated by the totalitarian anticommunist (and antinostalgic) paradigm, the 2000s brought a radical turn, with the rise of victimhood nationalism and “redemptive” authoritarianism of the Putin era. The new mnemonic regime is shaped by an official, “patriotic” restorative nostalgia that is also placed in the centre of the presidential cultural programe designed to legitimize the authoritarian system and to support the restoration of a great, mythical Russia. Against this background, new forms of counter-memory and counter-nostalgia began to manifest within both the social and cultural field. One of the most remarkable exemples is offered within the “new realities” created by the young photographer Danila Tkachenko, who’s compositions marked by a “second-hand nostalgia” challenge both the Soviet utopia and its official nostalgic-populist recostructions. By means of a special nostalgic technique based on reframing the remnants and the “trukhliashechkas” of the Soviet past – (re)interpreted as the symbols of “the perfect technocratic future that never came” –, the young artist also deconstruct the imagined “sovietness” embedded in the cultural-political products shaped by the statist patriotic nostalgia. His representations of the post-Soviet landscape are those of “a ghost of utopia”, a land of ruins, of abandoned cities, of ecological disasters, and of millions unburied deads of the GULAG.
Keywords: post-Soviet nostalgia, utopia, anti-utopia, postmemory, prosthetic memory.
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