A strange reverse “human centipede” style playground sculpture.
Many of the images in this nightmare-fueled post were taken in playgrounds around Russia, and they are about as bleak as a vodka shortage in Moscow in the middle of winter.
The “peeing rainbow kids” of Kiev, Ukraine.
Some of the other perplexing playground structures that you’ll see, such as a rock climbing “thing” that looks like a giant dick, and the reverse human centipede sculpture (pictured at the top of this post) were photographed in China, Tokyo and some European locations. Each of them has one thing in common: they appear to have been created by people who don’t like children at all. Of course there are plenty of demented looking clowns as well as depressed looking bears (because, Russia), and other odd animal-themed slides and such that are just too inexplicably odd for words. Unless those words consist of the triple-threat known as “WTF.”
If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.
More images of strange playground structures that need to be put out of their misery, after the jump…
Shest’ pisem o bite or Six Letters About Beat is a Soviet student film from 1977 examining the cultural impact of rock music, which was very underground at the time, through a series of “letters to the editor” from people of different ages and backgrounds. The attacks, defenses, and explanations of rock music come from a conservative couple, some young fans, members of a band, and a sociology professor.
This film is an amazing historical document and a living proof that Soviet rock music didn’t start in the 1980s with Viktor Tsoi and “Kino”, as it is believed by many. The film contains recordings of the 1970s underground concerts with bands like “Rubinovaya ataka” (Ruby Attack), “Visokosnoe leto” (Leap Summer) and “Mashina Vremeni” (Time Machine). Rock music sessions were not completely legal at that time, which makes the footage even more exclusive.
Six Letters About Beat was directed by a documentary film-maker Aleksei Khanyutin, back then a student of VGIK (All Union State University of Cinematography), as part of his university course. This coursework was gathering dust on a shelf of some archive until the collapse of the USSR, mainly because the film doesn’t exhibit any negative attitudes towards rock music scene and even poses a question whether this music can be considered a form of art.
The music in Six Letters About Beat is not necessarily mind-blowing, but it is pretty interesting in that it sounds like a slightly “off” version of Western music. There are even a few moments of killer fuzz. It’s interesting to note how ‘60s-dated the music sounds for 1977, when the rest of the world was undergoing a musical revolution with punk, dance, and hiphop—but anything youth-counter-culture-related, especially in such an under-reported scene, is worthy of attention. This short doc is totally worth a gander, not only for the interesting Soviet take on rock music, but for the attractive Russian teens dancing to the beat.
Photographer Christopher Herwig spent roughly a dozen years roaming the vast expanses of the former Soviet Union, in search of the wild roadside shelters, for want of a better term, dotting the landscape in locales as exotic as Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Last year Herwig successfully funded a print run of 1,500 copies of his photo book of Soviet bus stops on Kickstarter, and now FUEL Publishing has decided that it merits a larger audience; the book, Soviet Bus Stops, will be released at the end of the month.
It turns out that bus stops were a medium of startling vitality with a great deal of local control in the otherwise repressive Soviet Union. Local architects apparently didn’t think too much about budgets, and experimented in a variety of styles including brutalism or outright weirdness. During his journey Herwig covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus, taxi and who knows what else. There are examples from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Abkhazia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Estonia.
Many more of these wild Soviet structures after the jump…...
Americans became aware during the run-up to the Sochi Olympics last year that Russia was undergoing something like the opposite of the social revolution that has brought some approximation of equal rights to homosexuals within the United States. If anything, Russia was regressing, and the persistence of anti-gay hate was depressing to behold, just as Russia was the athletic center of the world, and just a few months before that country’s ominous annexation of parts of Ukraine.
Their latest idea is incredibly simple and yet devastating in the virulence of the reaction it has elicited. All they did was have two young men walk through public places in Moscow holding hand—not kissing, not engaging in crazy PDA behavior, just holding hands—and documented the reactions of ordinary citizens, most of which are pretty nauseating.
In addition to the occasional resigned sentiment of “Where is this country going?” and various epithets of abuse, ChebuRussiaTV documented two cases of assault (arguably), taking the form of a rough shoulder hit—the second of which certainly threatened to get out of hand.
The Cyrillic headline of the video—”Избиение гомосексуалистов в России”—translates as “Beating homosexuals in Russia” according to Google Translate. The English title is “Reaction to gays in Russia social experiment,” which is a good deal more euphemistic.
According to the Izvestia newspaper, the Russian government has recently launched a campaign to persuade people not to take selfies in dangerous situations. The government was induced to take action after a series of incidents in which young people were seriously injured or even killed in the process of taking pictures of themselves.
The slogan of the campaign runs, “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.”
I really wish I understood Russian, so that I could read the captions in the chart.
It’s difficult not to think of the Darwin Awards, which were and are bestowed on people who obliged humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool, by dying from what can only be called “stupidity.” Actually, a recent submission to the Darwin Awards recounts an incident from Kenya involving death-by-selfie; the opening line reads, “An attempt by two men to take photographs while touching an elephant’s trunk and tusks turned tragic when the beast suddenly turned against them and trampled them to death.”
It’s difficult to say how much a sign will help a person who is willing to entertain the idea of taking a selfie next to an oncoming train—and yet, who knows, maybe they will make a difference.
(Click on the image for a better view.)
More from Russia’s “Safe Selfie” campaign after the jump…
The Cold War seems an awful long time ago, long enough that it’s sometimes hard to remember that a huge percentage of our planet’s land mass was officially denied the right to listen to classic rock. You couldn’t just wander into the USSR with a bunch of Mott the Hoople albums under your arm and expect anyone not to mind, there were actual policies about this. Those people who had heard about and liked Led Zeppelin had to resort to illegal, grassroots ways of disseminating the music, and that process included pressing albums illegally and creating fake, yet plausible, album covers.
In the r/vinyl/ subreddit, reddit user “zingo-spleen” uploaded scans of several awesome album covers that were created for illegal Russian pressings of Led Zeppelin albums. Represented are the band’s second through fifth albums, being II, III, IV, and Houses of the Holy, which is hilariously called V in the Russian version.
Helpfully, “zingo-spleen” provided some background about the fantastic covers:
these are two double albums in gatefold sleeves, with a cover on each side. II and III are together as a set, while IV and V (Houses of the Holy) are together as a set. Not sure why the first one is not included - blame the Russians and their twisted logic. I found these in a thrift shop a long time ago and couldn’t bear to get rid of them, even though I’ve had offers.
The record label, AnTrop, was a major force in underground bootlegs, releasing illegal versions of all the most notable classic rock acts:
AnTrop was named after the legendary Russian underground producer and sound engineer, Andrey Tropillo, who in 1990, on the wave of “perestroika,” became the head of the St. Petersburg branch of Melodia. Since there was much turmoil in Russia at the time, he made the St. Petersburg branch independent of central headquarters and started releasing a series of classic Rock albums. These releases were not legitimate. They started with releases by The Beatles, Jesus Christ - Superstar, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and eventually Pink Floyd. All these records were released using Melodia facilities, but AnTrop was operating as an independent record label and was putting the Antrop logo and their own numbers and copyrights on the covers. However, since all the records were printed in Melodia owned and run facilities, AnTrop had to give its releases additional Melodia catalog numbers, which is why there are two catalog numbers on the releases. Antrop is the label that released most of the Pink Floyd albums in Russia. “P” in the AnTrop catalog numbers stands for Russian letter “P” (that looks like Greek “Pi”). AnTrop records were all pressed in Aprelevka.
According to “zingo-spleen,” the quality of the pressings is “really not bad at all ... certainly listenable.”
I think reddit user “arachnophilia” speaks for us all when he says, “oh man, i love aeg threenneauh.”
(Clicking on the images will spawn a larger version.)
There’s not too much information about this video which surfaced on the Internet yesterday of an unimpressed man sitting in a restaurant while 35 armed and masked men invade the place. The whole thing went down somewhere in Russia.
“Couldn’t Care Less Guy” just calmly sits there, casually sipping on his bottled water… waiting for the whole thing to blow over. He doesn’t even flinch.
This gets the eyeroll of the week award. Not as bad as when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that there were no gay people in Iran, but still, it’s up there. There was a six-foot-tall iPhone St. Petersburg, Russia, to honor Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who passed away of pancreatic cancer in October 2011. The current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, came out of the closet last week in the form of an editorial for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he wrote that he is “proud to be gay.”
That was it for the memorial. The touch-screen monument was designed to emit free Wi-Fi in temperatures as low as negative-30 as well as take photos via a built-in camera. After Cook’s announcement, Maksim Dolgopolov, director of West European Financial Union, the Russian company that originally commissioned the memorial, said that it was now “gay propaganda.” In addition the fact that Edward Snowden used Apple products to leak NSA documents in 2013 also played a role in the decision to remove the monument.
Hilariously, Dolgopolov said that he would reinstall the monument if it can be modified to instruct people to use products made by Apple’s competitors.
You can watch workers removing the big black slab here:
After looking through several pages of photographs by 27-year-old Russian photographer, painter and digital artist Moppaa, it didn’t really come as a surprise to learn that he started his art career engraving portraits on gravestones. Beyond that, there is not much known about this young artist but I did manage to dig up an interview he gave less than a month ago over at In Dark We Trust and gained a bit of insight into what makes Moppaa tick.
Moppaa (Eugene Kuleshov) says his interest in photography started in 2012 after he surprised his girlfriend with a photograph and “liked” her reaction to it. I can only assume that her reaction was positive as Moppaa has gone on to create some fairly terrifying images that often feature his girlfriend (who appears to be his wife now) as the subject. Moppaa’s goal as an artist is to make people “shit their pants” (me = mission fucking accomplished!) and is planning to publish a children’s book of horror stories. When asked to describe himself in three words he choose, “maniac”, “paranoid” and “artist” (me = agreed). So please, grab another pair of pants before you view the following images from this young, beautifully deranged artist. You can also view his full gallery here. If you need me, I’ll be under my bed.
I’m not going to explain what’s happening here. You’ve seen enough Russian dash-cam videos to know the drill. But this one in particular stands out on its own because, well, something unexpected happens. You’ll just have to watch and go with the flow.
BTW, I’m repeatedly clicking my heels together like Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz and telling myself, “Please let this be real. Please let this be real.”
As someone on reddit points out, “He’ll never tell a soul what happened that day…”
Garry Bardin’s 1983 short “Konflikt” has the rich color and narrative intensity often associated with his work, but unlike his other stop-motion films, which use malleable materials like clay and origami paper, “Konflikt” works almost solely with a mundane, seemingly lifeless object—the wooden match. With very little in the way of a set, Bardin constructs an entire war, from segregation (the tell-tale wall), to initial conflict, to escalation, to doomsday. It’s a strange thing to be moved by a bunch of matchsticks, but somehow they’re animated into truly expressive characters.
There’s a US tendency to assume every piece of Soviet political art is somehow centered on America, but it’s difficult to argue the short as a literal depiction of the Cold War. Most obviously, the titular conflict involves a direct border dispute and open battle, something that wasn’t the context for the US and USSR. Still, the final act of warfare in the film is so violent (yet so expected), it’s difficult to ignore parallels with nuclear fears.
What with Pussy Riot, the Sochi Olympics, and the unrest in Crimea, Russia’s officially in the collective consciousness of Americans again, even the ones who get their news from Gawker. Americans generally have inordinate difficulty finding, say, Ukraine on a map, so I can’t say I’m not pleased that more people have context for an outfit like the Night Wolves.
For those not in the know, the Night Wolves are a Russian motorcycle club founded in 1989. They boast about 5,000 members, and have chapters in Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania. Like a lot of outlaw bikers, they’re fundamentally conservative, claiming to follow only their own rules, but they endorse both Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin has not only gone on rides with the gang for high-profile photo ops, he recently awarded the group’s leader, Alexander Zaldostanov (the big motherfucker here, whose nickname is “The Surgeon”), an Order of Honor for his “active work in the patriotic upbringing of the young”.
It’s difficult to tell which of the Night Wolves’ many accomplishments garnered them such prestige—perhaps it was for when they offered, ahem, “security” to churches after Pussy Riot’s “Punk Prayer” protest? At any rate, the Night Wolves have been keeping up with their civic duties, recently appearing as a vigilante military presence in Crimea. I’m sure they’re supplying just the right note of level-headed sangfroid the situation calls for.
Also like a lot of outlaw bikers, the Night Wolves find ingenious ways to capitalize off their macho “brand.” Much as the Hells Angels make a little extra cash selling tacky swag, so too have the Night Wolves ventured into the world of merchandising. The clothing linked on their website (sadly) appears to only be available only in stores. You can see it modeled below by disheveled young ladies and those guys who stand as if the bulk of their arm muscles is preventing them from ever looking relaxed. (My dad was an Iron Horseman, and I assure you, this is some sort of ubiquitous biker body language.)
But with the possible exception of some leather goods (which appear to have a wolf on them?) the clothes appear to be generic biker fare. If you really want the Night Wolf logo (and can read Cyrillic), you can order the jewelry online! The collection is sort of a mix of “goth kid” and “Rasputin,” but I could see wearing it to your local PTA meeting. Don’t delay, order today! The guys clearly need to cash if they’re ever going to buy a decent camera (the photo quality is pretty bad).
Someone’s a crankypants…..
Still can’t seem to get those arms down, huh?
That looks practical. Nice Eurotrash jeans, by the way.
Apparently no one told them they were getting their picture taken.
If you told me these were some lesser-known Kentucky cousins of mine, I’d probably believe you.
For the daytime.
For more of an evening look. Works for the symphony or the club!
“Of all arts, for us cinema is the most important.”—Lenin, 1919
An exhibition of Soviet silent-era film posters now underway at London’s Gallery for Russian Arts and Design features, among many treasures, a fair few of the important works of the design team of brothers Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg. Far from household names, it’s true, but their place in art history is difficult to deny. Their success was somewhat serendipitous—it happened that their Dada-inspired method of found image manipulation dovetailed perfectly with the conceits and priorities of the Constructivist movement that was dominating Soviet graphics of their time. They enjoyed a nearly decade-long run of superb work that ended only with Georgii’s untimely death in a 1933 traffic accident. I quote at length here from curator Christopher Mount’s essay in the exhibition catalog of their 1997 MoMA retrospective:
The 1920s and early 1930s were a revolutionary period for the graphic arts throughout Europe. A drastic change took place in the way graphic designers worked that was a direct consequence of experimentation in both the fine and the applied arts. Not only did the formal vocabulary of graphic design change, but also the designer’s perception of self. The concept of the designer as “constructor”—or, as the Dadaist Raoul Hausmann preferred, “monteur” (mechanic or engineer)—marked a paradigmatic shift within the field, from an essentially illustrative approach to one of assemblage and nonlinear narrativity. This new idea of assembling preexisting images, primarily photographs, into something new freed design from its previous dependence on realism. The subsequent use of collage—a defining element of modern graphic design—enabled the graphic arts to become increasingly nonobjective in character.
In Russia, these new artist-engineers were attracted to the functional arts by political ideology. The avant-gardists’ rejection of the fine arts, deemed useless in a new Communist society, in favor of “art for use” in the service of the state, was key in the evolution of the poster. Advertising was now a morally superior occupation with ramifications for the new society; as such, it began to attract those outside the usual illustrative or painterly backgrounds—sculptors, architects, photographers—who brought new ideas and techniques to the field.
Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg were prominent members of this group, which was centered in Moscow and active throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. The Stenberg brothers produced a large body of work in a multiplicity of mediums, initially achieving renown as Constructivist sculptors and later working as successful theatrical designers, architects, and draftsmen; in addition, they completed design commissions that ranged from railway cars to women’s shoes. Their most significant accomplishment, however, was in the field of graphic design, specifically, the advertising posters they created for the newly burgeoning cinema in Soviet Russia.
These works merged two of the most important agitational tools available to the new Communist regime: cinema and the graphic arts. Both were endorsed by the state, and flourished in the first fifteen years of Bolshevik rule. In a country where illiteracy was endemic, film played a critical role in the conversion of the masses to the new social order. Graphic design, particularly as applied in the political placard, was a highly useful instrument for agitation, as it was both direct and economical. The symbiotic relationship of the cinema and the graphic arts would result in a revolutionary new art form: the film poster.
Catherine the Great is one of those fascinating figures whose political power was often overshadowed by scandal. She did not, as popularly rumored, die attempting to have sex with a horse, but her real life was way more interesting. She had twelve well-known affairs, illegitimate children (no one’s totally sure which ones), and made lavish gifts to her consorts. She gave one of her boyfriends more than 1,000 indentured servants!
Cut to World War II, when a very surprised group of Soviet soldiers managed to stumble on ole’ Cathy’s special room while exploring a palace. It was packed with explicit art, wooden phalluses and some insane furniture. Instead of looting or burning the lot, the soldiers took pictures, and aren’t we grateful they did? Looking at the kinky personal effects of the rich and powerful is even better than going through their medicine cabinets! This is only some of the collection, as most of the photos and furniture have been lost or destroyed, but man… girl loved her some porn.
Definitely NSFW, unless you work at a really fun place, but since some of the most entertaining history is simply the gossip of yesteryear, consider this post educational!
A satirical painting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dressed in frilly ladies’ lingerie, Travesty, was confiscated by officials from the Museum of Power art gallery in St. Petersburg a week before the G20 summit started. Putin is shown combing Medvedev’s hair.
Other paintings of authority figures in the “Rulers” exhibit that “violated existing legislation” and were confiscated included depictions of two evil politicians, Vitaly Milonov (deputy mayor of St. Petersburg) and Yelena Mizulina, the ones responsible for recent vicious anti-gay legislation, with a rainbow flag, and conservative, homophobic Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who was painted with skull tattoos and busts of Stalin and Lenin. The government won’t say which existing laws were violated, but they could always point to the one prohibiting insulting state authorities or the new one banning alleged homosexual propaganda aimed at minors. It would be hard to argue that seeing the equivalent of a political cartoon in a newspaper is going to give young people “The Gay.”
Milonov, who may be the last male on the planet who has never seen actual pornography, had already complained about the paintings being displayed and described them as being “of a distinctly pornographic character.”
According to gallery owner, Alexander Donskoy, the paintings were seized with no formal warrant for their removal, the director was detained by police but not charged, and the museum was closed for a few days. Donskoy has been a thorn in the side of the Russian government since announcing his intention to enter politics in 2006. He also owns the G-Spot, a gallery of erotica, where a painting of a nude Putin and Barack Obama (with multiple massive dayglo penises) by artist Vera Donskaya-Khilko was seized by police yesterday. The G-Spot was shut down.
The artist who painted the Putin-Milonov Travesty piece, Konstantin Altunin, has fled to France and is planning to seek asylum. Maybe he and Femen’s Inna Shevchenko, the two members of Pussy Riot who fled Russia in 2012, and the upcoming diaspora of Russian artists can all be housemates.
Oh, and he wants his painting back. In an open letter to G20 leaders, Altunin wrote, “I ask [you] to mention the topic of censorship in [a] personal conversation with Putin and ask him to return my paintings seized from the Museum of Authority.”
So, hey, just in case G20 leaders or their staff members are actually reading Dangerous Minds during boring meetings, instead of playing poker on their phones (hi guys!), here are two other paintings they’re not supposed to see: