26 February 2009

Kamienka, 1982

From a design perspective, there's little more that can turn me on more than socialist-era commemorative books. I've got a small but significant collection of old guide books, commemorative books, and otherwise ephemera from this period -- they've all got the incredible farm yield statistics, rad letterpress printing, paper that has a sweet, addictive acid smell, and obviously posed photos with saturated color that remind me of our earliest family pictures from here that were taken with Polaroid cameras and cross-processed slide film (Yeah, that's right. My grandma was a hipster photographer before you were born). Now, I often use digital measures to effectively cross-process my photos from here, because it's the aesthetic I remember so vividly from my childhood.

I picked these photos from a book called Камйонка:35 років соцілістичного будивнцтва. First, before the Ukrainian language police come knocking at the blog, this was produced back in 1982, when officially Rusyns were Ukrainians in Slovakia, even though there was nothing Ukrainian about them. But even to the present, people in Kamienka keep teaching their kids some form of Rusyn/Ukrainian/Russian, because they know how important it is that Rusyn is written in the cyrillic alphabet.

But there's nothing Ukrainian about these people, except the language this book is written in. These are Rusyns, and quite active at it. Now, they've got a very effective local organization, and frankly, have done a great job exporting their music to the Rusyn world. At this point, I'm not sure what songs I know are Rusyn songs or Kamienka songs first -- I listened to the new Barvinok ensemble album and was happy to sing along. Also, my favorite American Rusyn rock, Vox Ethnika (the artists formerly known as S Harmony) are Rusyns from Kamienka as well!

Above, the Barvinok ensemble and the amphitheater in Kamienka.

So obviously, Rusyns know how to throw the best parties. Always.
Regardless of politics. And definitely in spite of them.
This pic is from 1966.

Rusyn pioneers learning first aid!
This makes me giggle a little because the kids at my school have Malá Anča (Little Anne!),
the source of some great jokes and laughs in the zborovňa.

I totally get teased for my love of the ruins of collective farms while driving along the roads here. In fact, I've got some amazing photos that I haven't yet posted here, but they were taken near where the cat and mouse video was taken.

But I find there's something poignant in the ruins of these farms, with the title of Jednotné roľnícke družstvá -- they're modern ruins, decaying symbols of a failed ideology, and most of them are still sitting where they once stood. I love modern decay, in Western cities especially, because it shows that all of this progress is still imperfect, and we can't control everything. These farms in the countryside still represent the honesty and honor of work, but now that is back in the control of individuals, and together they can make decisions that still grow community.

So these above three photos show the hope in progress for something that now probably looks a lot like this:

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