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Kikimora Publications Series A 19

Mari Ristolainen
Preferred Realities: Soviet and Post-Soviet Amateur Art in Novorzhev

Kikimora Publications A 19
ISBN 978-952-10-4099-3
366 p.
10 EUR + VAT 10 %


Highlighting the astonishing boom in amateur art activities on a local level in post-Soviet society, this research traces how different actors impact the reality construction process – in the case of the town of Novorzhev, Pskov Province – before and after 1991. This book examines the relationship between Soviet and post-Soviet practices of amateur activity in a peripheral town of some 5000 inhabitants on Russia’s western borderlands. The author shows how persistent Soviet models still are used today by powerful social forces. The study illuminates amateurs’ creative potential and how it is used to convey some carefully selected themes. These themes are chosen to depict a preferred reality that show how the new Russian reality must look like.

“Ristolainen finds a somewhat surprising continuity between the amateur productions of the two eras in form and method and in doing so raises important questions about the response to change and about the forces that held the Soviet state together on the local level. The scholarship in this dissertation is among the best I have seen in 25 years in academia.”
Adele Barker, Professor of Russian Studies, University of Arizona, USA

" This is an impressive work of research on a fascinating topic. Time in the Russian countryside reveals, over and over again, humbling examples of how people who have been offered so little can create lives of great depth. Novorzhevians make art. Ristolainen lets us hear ans see these people at the tender moments of their artistic offerings."
- Margaret Paxson, Kennan Institute and George Washington University, USA
in Slavic and East European Journal, 54.3. (Fall 2010)