Tattoos, historically, have been on the bodies of sailors and prisoners. It’s only in relatively recent years that they’ve entered mainstream society and lost some of their negative social stigma. Arkady Bronnikov collected photographs of tattooed Russian prisoners between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. The amount he obtained was massive – 918 images worth – thanks to his position in the government. As a senior expert in criminalistics at the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for over 30 years, part of Bronnikov’s duties involved visiting correctional institutions of the Ural and Siberia regions. He interviewed, gathered information, and photographed convicts and their tattoos, which gradually helped him build this comprehensive archive.
The images were later acquired by FUEL, a London-based design group, in 2013. Some of the photographs and official police papers authored by Bronnikov from the Soviet period will be published by FUEL in two volumes, the first of which was just released. Now, they are part of a current exhibition titled FUEL present: Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Filesat Grimaldi Gavin in London until November 22 of this year.
When these photos were taken, Bronnikov wasn’t concerned with composition or style. They were meant to act as a record and served a purely practical purpose. The gallery explains, “Their bodies display an unofficial history, told not just through tattoos, but also in scars and missing digits. Closer inspection only confirms our inability to comprehend the unimaginable lives of this previously unacknowledged caste.”
In the midst of all of this, a tumblr page by the name of Pride Propaganda, takes a different and quieter yet effective approach to all the protests. In efforts to adhere to the pro-LGBT agenda, PP transforms vintage Soviet posters into brightly colored displays of men, women and children waiving and wearing rainbow flags. The familiar images of Young Pioneers, working men and loyal mothers (all symbolism for the confining ways of Soviet Russia) take on entirely new meanings when cloaked in the vibrant rainbow flags that we’ve come to associate with the global pride movement.
Participate in the protest by hastagging your tweets #PridePropaganda. (via HuffPost)
Florentijn Hofman, mostly known for her interactive, cutsey and giant sculptures of children’s toys (ie. Rubber Duck, Max), has created Sunbathing Hare, another eye-catching and adorable installation for everyone to find their inner child with, yet again. It was taken down yesterday Oct.13th, 2013 as it was part of the Netherlands Bilateral Year and the Russian public arts program and was only allowed to be on site for a few months.
With outstretched arms, the over-sized lazy creature suggests a lazy, happy pose, as it lays on the green grass of Hare Island near the St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It has contagious vibe; people lie and sit next to it with intentions to relax and forget about their problems for a moment.
Sunbathing Hare measured 15 meters long by 8 meters wide and 2.5 meters high. It was made out of plywood boards, a pink painted nose, eyes, and smile with a touch of charm and humorousness. (via designboom)
“My sculptures cause an uproar, astonishment and put a smile on your face. They give people a break from their daily routines. Passers-by stop in front of them, get off their bicycle and enter into conversation with other spectators. People are making contact with each other again. That is the effect of my sculptures in the public domain.”
The photographs of Katerina Plotnikova are apparitions of fairytales. Female subjects are cradled by ghosts and smoke while narratives come through pops of color. The resulting composition is a dreamlike fashion editorial hinting at both the wistful and sinister. (via)
Retronaut recently posted a gallery of early Soviet-era Russian board game designs and illustrations. The images seem to be taken from a LiveJournal user by the name of babs71. You’ll find some seriously gorgeous propaganda here. The vintage illustrations depict workers young and old, soldiers bravely entering battle to defend the Motherland,and some nicely stylized industrial complexes. Find more hammer and sickle goodness after the jump.
Check out some amazing aerial shots of Iceland’s volcanic countryside from Russian photographer Andre Ermolaev. The intense heat from the volcanoes produces some really unique visuals. And Ermolaev’s bird’s eye view forces us to recall how majestic our planet really is. Not to get all preachy, but if we want to preserve visuals like these, we may have to alter our actions a little. (via)
“Found antique objects and miniature tintype photos form the emotional core of several works, juxtaposing the musty aura of a dusty attic with smooth, delicate ethereal forms, computer rendered yet exquisitely hand-crafted.”
Brooklyn via Russia artist Stanislav Ginzburg‘s Curiophyla is a series of staged photographs of original sculpture placed within specific, relevant mise en scène environs. The sculptures, beautiful references to cellular anatomy that incorporate emotionally charged vintage (and faux-vintage) tintype portraiture, take on a unique appeal when positioned amongst their ethereal settings. The overall aesthetic perfectly captures an elemental, organic feel (moss, insects, blood, etc.), while the photographic elements within the works offer a distinctly human connection. By reducing things to their most basic, cellular level, Ginzburg illustrates a deep connection between past and present. So beautiful.
So, according to her Flickr page, Alena Beljakova is only 19 years old. Wow. That’s a pretty young age for someone capable of producing photos like these. Impressive. There’s a mysterious, cinematic quality to the Saint Petersburg photographer’s work, and I wasn’t exactly surprised to find that she’s a ruski. There must be something about Russia’s cold winters and massive, partially barren landscape that lends itself to art that is in touch with the dark intangibles of the world. Definitely gonna keep an eye on this one. (via)