Published by FUEL Publishing. Photographs by Niels Ackermann. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Text by Sébastien Gobert, Myroslava Hartmond.
The eerie beauty of Ukraine’s Lenin statues, toppled in the name of decommunization
In the process of decommunisation, Ukraine has toppled all its Lenin monuments. The authors have hunted down and photographed these banned Soviet statues, revealing their inglorious fate. As Russia celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, Ukraine struggles to achieve complete decommunization. Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of this process is the phenomenon of Leninopad (Lenin-fall)—the toppling of Lenin statues. In 2015 the Ukrainian parliament passed legislation banning these monuments as symbols of the obsolete Soviet regime. From an original population of 5500 in 1991, today not a single Lenin statue remains standing in Ukraine.
Photographer Niels Ackermann and journalist Sébastien Gobert, both based in Kyiv, have scoured the country in search of the remains of these toppled figures. They found them in the most unlikely of places: Lenin inhabits gardens, scrap yards and store rooms. He has fallen on hard times—cut into pieces; daubed with paint in the colors of the Ukrainian flag; transformed into a Cossack or Darth Vader—but despite these attempts to reduce their status, the statues retain a sinister quality, resisting all efforts to separate them from their history.
These compelling images are combined with witness testimonies to form a unique insight, revealing how Ukrainians perceive their country, and how they are grappling with the legacy of their Soviet past to conceive a new vision of the future.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Text by Alexei Plutser-Sarno.
Soviet propaganda against the demon drink: the latest in Fuel’s Russian pop culture series
From the acclaimed authors of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedias and Soviet Space Dogs comes Alcohol, a glorious and exhaustive collection of previously unpublished Soviet anti-alcohol posters. The book includes examples from the 1960s through to the 1980s, but focuses on posters produced during Mikhail Gorbachev’s campaign initiated in 1985. These posters attempted to sober up Soviet citizens by forcing them to confront the issues associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This government-led urgency allowed the poster designers to present the anti-alcohol message in the most graphic terms: they depicted drunks literally trapped inside the bottle or being strangled by “the green snake.” Their protagonists are paralytic freeloaders and shirkers who always neglect their families, drive under the influence, produce substandard work, are smashed when pregnant and present a constant danger to fellow citizens. A two-part essay by renowned cultural historian Alexei Plutser-Sarno attempts to explain, from a Russian perspective, the reasons behind this phenomenon.
Published by FUEL Publishing. By Maryam Omidi. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell.
Architecturally diverse and ideologically staunch, Soviet sanatoriums were intended to edify and invigorate
Visiting a Soviet sanatorium is like stepping back in time. Originally built in the 1920s, they afforded workers a place to holiday, courtesy of a state-funded voucher system. At their peak they were visited by millions of citizens across the USSR every year. A combination of medical institution and spa, the era’s sanatoriums are among the most innovative buildings of their time.
Although aesthetically diverse, Soviet utopian values permeated every aspect of these structures; Western holidays were perceived as decadent. By contrast, sanatorium breaks were intended to edify and strengthen visitors: health professionals carefully monitored guests throughout their stay, so they could return to work with renewed vigor. Certain sanatoriums became known for their specialist treatments, such as crude-oil baths, radon water douches and stints in underground salt caves.
While today some sanatoriums are in critical states of decline, many are still fully operational and continue to offer their Soviet-era treatments to visitors. Using specially commissioned photographs by leading photographers of the post-Soviet territories, and texts by sanatorium expert Maryam Omidi, this book documents over 45 sanatoriums and their unconventional treatments. From Armenia to Uzbekistan, it represents the most comprehensive survey to date of this fascinating and previously overlooked Soviet institution.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Text by Olga and Pavel Syutkin.
As the Soviet Union struggled along the path to communism, food shortages were commonplace, and both Party authorities and Soviet citizens had to apply every ounce of ingenuity to maximize often-inadequate resources. The stories and recipes contained in the CCCP Cook Book reflect these turbulent times: from basic subsistence meals consumed by the average citizen (like okroshka, a cold soup made with the fermented beverage kvass) to extravagant banquets held by the political elite (suckling pig with buckwheat), with a scattering of classics (beef stroganoff) in between. Each recipe is introduced with a historical story or anecdote from the period, and illustrated using images sourced from original Soviet recipe books collected by the authors, food historians Olga and Pavel Syutkin. Many of the sometimes extraordinary-looking pictures depict dishes whose recipes used unobtainable ingredients, placing them firmly in the realm of "aspirational" fantasy for the average Soviet household. In their content and presentation, the recipes and illustrations act as windows into the cuisine and culture of the era. CCCP Cook Book offers an illustrated history of Soviet cuisine told through the stories and popular recipes from the period. The book contains 60 recipes from the Soviet period, including such delicacies as aspic, borscht, caviar and herring, by way of bird's milk cake and pelmeni.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Foreword by Jonathan Meades. Text by Vera Kavalkova-Halvarsson, Christopher Herwig.
Photographer Christopher Herwig first noticed the unusual architecture of Soviet-era bus stops during a 2002 long-distance bike ride from London to St. Petersburg. Challenging himself to take one good photograph every hour, Herwig began to notice surprisingly designed bus stops on otherwise deserted stretches of road. Twelve years later, Herwig had covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus and taxi to hunt down and document these bus stops. The local bus stop proved to be fertile ground for local artistic experimentation in the Soviet period, and was built seemingly without design restrictions or budgetary concerns. The result is an astonishing variety of styles and types across the region, from the strictest Brutalism to exuberant whimsy. Soviet Bus Stops is the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Soviet bus stop design ever assembled, including examples from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Abkhazia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Estonia. Originally published in a quickly sold-out limited edition, Soviet Bus Stops, named one of the best photobooks of 2014 by Martin Parr, is now available in a highly anticipated, expanded smaller-format trade edition.
Drawings by Danzig Baldaev. Photographs by Sergei Vasiliev.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell.
Soviets features unpublished drawings from the archive of Danzig Baldaev. Made in secret, they satirize the Communist Party system and expose the absurdities of Soviet life. Baldaev touches on a wide range of subjects, from drinking (Alcoholics and Shirkers) to the Afghan war (The Shady Enterprise), via dissent (Censorship, Paranoia and Suspicion) and religion (Atheism as an Ideology). He reveals the cracks in the crumbling socialist structure, describing the realities of living in a country whose leaders are in pursuit of an ideal that will never arrive. The drawings date from the 1950s to the period immediately before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, with caricatures exposing communism’s winners and losers: the stagnation of the system, the corruption of its politicians and the effect of this on the ordinary soviet citizen. Baldaev’s drawings are contrasted with classic propaganda-style photographs taken by Sergei Vasiliev for the newspaper Vercherny Chelyabinsk. These photographs depict the world the Communist leaders dreamed of: where the local factory produced its millionth tractor and heroic workers fulfilled their five-year plans. It is impossible to imagine the daily reality of living under such a system; this book shows us--both broadly and in minute detail--what it must have been like.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Foreword by Alexei Plutser-Sarno. Text by Danzig Baldaev. Photographs by Sergei Vasiliev.
Occasionally a book is published that reveals a subculture you never dreamt existed. More rarely, that book goes on to become a phenomenon of its own. The 2004 publication of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia was such a phenomenon, spawning two further volumes and alerting a fascinated readership worldwide to the extraordinary and hermetic world of Russian criminal tattoos (David Cronenberg, for example, made regular use of the Encyclopaedia during the making of his 2007 movie Eastern Promises). Now, Fuel has reprinted volume one of this bestselling series, whose first edition already fetches considerable sums online. The photographs, drawings and texts published in this book are part of a collection of more than 3,000 tattoos accumulated over a lifetime by a prison attendant named Danzig Baldaev. Tattoos were his gateway into a secret world in which he acted as ethnographer, recording the rituals of a closed society. The icons and tribal languages he documented are artful, distasteful, sexually explicit and sometimes just strange, reflecting as they do the lives and traditions of Russian convicts. Skulls, swastikas, harems of naked women, a smiling Al Capone, medieval knights in armor, daggers sheathed in blood, benign images of Christ, sweet-faced mothers and their babies, armies of tanks and a horned Lenin: these are the signs by which the people of this hidden world mark and identify themselves. With a foreword by Danzig Baldaev, and an introduction by Alexei Plutser-Sarno, exploring the symbolism of the Russian criminal tattoo.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Introduction by Anne Applebaum. Foreword by Alexel Pluster-Sarno. Photographs by Sergey Vasiliev. Drawings by Danzig Baldaev.
Danzig Baldaev's father was an academic, an ethnologist who found himself imprisoned under Soviet rule as an enemy of the people. In fact much of Baldaev's family moved through the Soviet prison system, while he became a guard. At his father's suggestion, Danzig used his access to document and study the tattoos that were pervasive among the truly criminal portion of the prison population, the vory v zakonye, or legitimate thieves, a semi-professional class who kept their own brutal laws. During his 30 years supervising inmates in St. Petersburg's notorious Kresty Prison, Baldaev recorded more than 3,000 of their tattoos and parsed their meanings, in the drawings and text that made the first volume of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia a bestseller. This essential second volume, which collects all-new, previously unseen photographs and drawings, goes to the extremes of his incredible collection. Sergei Vasiliev's photographs authenticate the images, Baldaev's drawings make sense of them and through them both we glimpse an extraordinary world where the criminal's position, history and even sexual preference are displayed indelibly on his body.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Introduction by Alexander Sidorov.
This volume of drawings and photographs completes the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia trilogy. Danzig Baldaev’s unparallelled ethnographic achievement, documenting more than 3,000 tattoo drawings, was made during a lifetime working as a prison guard. His recording of this esoteric world was reported to the KGB, who unexpectedly supported him, realizing the importance of being able to establish facts about convicts by reading the images on their bodies. The motifs depicted represent the uncensored lives of the criminal classes, ranging from violence and pornography to politics and alcohol. A medieval knight is surrounded by the severed heads of his enemies, a naked woman simultaneously services a man and two dwarfs, a crying President Gorbachev grips a human bone between sabre-like fangs, a group of angels drink vodka with God on a cloud--the meanings of these arresting images are explained to the uninitiated eye. Sergei Vasiliev’s graphic photographs show the grim reality of the Russian prison system and some of the alarming characters that inhabit it, while the illustrated criminals of Russia tell the tale of their closed society. This volume, the last in the trilogy, includes an introduction by historian Alexander Sidorov exploring the origins of the Russian criminal tattoo and their various meanings today.
Published by FUEL Publishing. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell.
Drawings from the Gulag consists of 130 drawings by Danzig Baldaev (author of the acclaimed Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia series), describing the history, horror and peculiarities of the Gulag system from its inception in 1918. Baldaev's father, a respected ethnographer, taught him techniques to record the tattoos of criminals in St. Petersburg's notorious Kresty prison, where Danzig worked as a guard. He was reported to the K.G.B. who unexpectedly offered support for his work, allowing him the opportunity to travel across the former U.S.S.R. Witnessing scenes of everyday life in the Gulag, he chronicled this previously closed world from both sides of the wire. With every vignette, Baldaev brings the characters he depicts to vivid life: from the lowest "zek" (inmate) to the most violent tattooed "vor" (thief), all the practices and inhabitants of the Gulag system are depicted here in incredible and often shocking detail. In documenting the attitude of the authorities to those imprisoned, and the transformation of these citizens into survivors or victims of the Gulag system, this graphic novel vividly depicts methods of torture and mass murder undertaken by the administration, as well as the atrocities committed by criminals upon their fellow inmates.
Danzig Baldaev was born in 1925 in Ulan-Ude, Buryatiya, Russia. In 1948, after serving in the army in World War II, he was ordered by the N.K.V.D. to work as a warden in the infamous Leningrad prison, Kresty, where he started drawing the tattoos of criminals. His collection of drawings, which he made in different reformatory settlements for criminals all over the former U.S.S.R. over a period of more than 50 years, have been published by Fuel in three volumes, in the bestselling Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia series.
Published by Royal Academy Publications. Text by John Milner, Natalia Murray, Nick Murray, Masha Chlenova, Ian Christie, John E. Bowlt, Nicoletta Misler, Zelfira Tregulova, Faina Balakhovskaya, Evgenia Petrova, Christina Lodder.
One hundred years after the Russian Revolution, this comprehensive survey explores all aspects of its groundbreaking art
One hundred years after the Russian Revolution, Revolution: Russian Art, 1917–1932 explores one of the most momentous periods in modern world history through its groundbreaking art. The October Revolution of 1917 ended centuries of Tsarist rule and left artists such as Malevich, Tatlin, Popova and Rodchenko urgently debating what form a new “people’s art” would take.
Painting and sculpture were redefined by Kandinsky’s boldly innovative compositions, Malevich’s dynamic abstractions and the Constructivists’ attempts to transform art into technical engineering. Photography, architecture, film and graphic design also experienced revolutionary changes. These debates were definitively settled in 1932, when Stalin began to suppress the avant-garde in favor of Socialist Realism—collective in production, public in manifestation and Communist in ideology.
Based around a remarkable exhibition shown in Leningrad’s State Russian Museum in 1932—which was to be the swansong of avant-garde art in Russia—this volume explores that revolutionary 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when possibilities seemed limitless and Russian art flourished across every medium. Published to accompany a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (the first to attempt to survey the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia), Revolution explores the painting, sculpture, photography, film, poster art and product design of the years after the Russian Revolution.
Including contributions from some of the most prominent scholars in the field (John Milner, Natalia Murray, Nick Murray, Masha Chlenova, Ian Christie, John E. Bowlt, Nicoletta Misler, Zelfira Tregulova, Faina Balakhovskaya, Evgenia Petrova and Christina Lodder), Revolution is a timely and authoritative exploration of both the idealistic aspirations and the harsh realities of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath.
Published by MFA Publications. Essay by Pamela Jill Kachurin.
Between 1927 and 1933, as the new Soviet Union emerged and the Communist party struggled to transform an agrarian country into an industrialized state, a group of young artists pitched in by designing fabrics depicting tractors, smokestacks and symbols of collective modernity, cloth with which to mold its buyers into ideal Soviet citizens. Few of these designs ever saw mass production, and the experiment failed as propaganda--comrades clung to their traditional floral motifs--but it yielded bold and intriguing new designs. Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia presents some 40 of them, and analyzes the political and artistic context in which they were made. Pamela Jill Kachurin identifies major themes and motifs, including industrialization, transportation, electrification, youth, agriculture and collectivization, and sports and hobbies, and analyzes the work both as propaganda and as graphic art, in this, the only English-language book to treat them from that perspective.