Blog

What we really mean when we copy Soviet constructivism from Alexander Rodchenko

October 18, 2013
Alexander Rodchenko and constructivism - famous 1925 poster

I was writing a post about how the internet is keeping the USSR alive – or at least, its “stuff,” like posters and old medals – but I got distracted by this poster, so instead you get to read about Alexander Rodchenko and constructivism. Question: Was this poster as familiar to its original, Soviet audience, as…

Keep Reading »

Soviet Propaganda Porcelain: Inside the Imperial Porcelain Factory

July 18, 2013
Soviet Propaganda Porcelain - Lenin plate

While we were in St. Petersburg, we went on a private tour of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, and got to see some Soviet propaganda porcelain for the first time. I didn’t know such a thing even existed – I always thought propaganda was largely “limited” to media. That is, posters, movies, radio and TV. But…

Keep Reading »

Vestiges of Empire – Tracking Lenin statues through Russia and Ukraine

July 12, 2013
Lenin statues in Russia and Ukraine - outside Finland station in St. Petersburg

I grew up in a country that is pathologically allergic to patriotism. I don’t think I need to tell you about the country I was born in and patriotism. Which, among other things, translated into a lot of statues and monuments. Broken Lenins and Stalins are part of our stock downfall-of-an-empire imagery, so I didn’t expect…

Keep Reading »

Reclaiming the Soviet Holocaust film industry: My article in Tablet

June 13, 2013
Soviet Holocaust films - Olga Gershenson's Phantom Holocaust Review

I’m very excited about my latest article for Tablet on a new book about Soviet Holocaust films. The book is called The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe, by Olga Gershenson. (Yes, that’s the book I was reading while waiting to pick up my visa application.) I’m not sure I did justice to the…

Keep Reading »

Appropriate Reading for Russian Vacations

June 11, 2013
Russian Reading List for trip

It began with the first line, where, waiting to drop off my own visa application, I spent the 3 hours reading Maxim Shrayer’s Waiting for America about his summer as a refugee in Italy. My own Italian paperwork – proof of a citizenship removed – was tucked safely away in my bag. Then it was Olga…

Keep Reading »

Oh hello, Russian visa

June 5, 2013
Russian visa

Why yes, that there is a Visa-to-Russia, circa 2013. It’s like a vysov in reverse. So this is where I’ll be for the last half of June, in St. Petersburg, where I was born and my mother grew up, and in Lviv, where my father grew up. I will try to post some photos and…

Keep Reading »

Limmud FSU: That time I spent a weekend speaking Russian

March 20, 2013
Limmud FSU 2013

Years of travelling and moving around the world, and I still managed to pull off a first this weekend, at Limmud FSU, a Russian-Jewish conference in Princeton. My first experience of the organized Russian-Jewish community in North America. Just how fish-out-of-water was this for me? It was a full 48 hours in when a friend turned…

Keep Reading »

Friday Links: The no room for DIY parenting in the office of the future edition

March 15, 2013
DIY Parenting

1. DIY parenting is the opposite of feminism The Atlantic takes up one of my favourite topics – the crazy effort required of DIY parenting. You know the kind, where parents (read: mothers) make their own baby food (ok, I did that, it’s called a blender and it’s closer than the grocery store), grow their…

Keep Reading »

With so many ways to keep in touch, let’s never talk again

March 11, 2013
Vintage Russian phone found in Moscow illustrating how immigrants keep in touch

I spend a lot of time downloading Facebook photos, uploading them to an email and sending them to my parents, where, I suspect, they will sit for all eternity in their inboxes. We, like most families, used to have albums, but now we have attachments we will never find again. As usual, we have an…

Keep Reading »

Friday Links: The Stalin ruins Women’s Day edition

March 8, 2013
Translated Soviet Women's Day Poster from 1932

Once upon a time, I used to post Monday links. I’m bringing them back, but on Friday. Because I actually have time to think of smart posts on the weekend. Not so much on Fridays. It is a weird week when the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death rolls around and it’s also (almost) International Women’s Day.…

Keep Reading »