I Walk These Streets Too, Excerpts I-X

Digital video: projection

2018

Artist Statement

 

As Soviet apartments shifted from communal spaces to private ones, the kitchen table afforded citizens, for the first time, some privacy in their own homes. It became an intimate “ideology-free zone of sincerity and spontaneity,” where one could speak openly, criticize the government, and “indulge in intimate nocturnal chat." (1) In this series of 30-40 minute films, presented here in excerpts, Vladimirsky spent time interviewing family members about their lives pre-, during, and post-immigration from the USSR. All three filmed interviews took place around his relatives’ kitchen tables and spanned anywhere from forty minutes to an hour. He then reenacted these interviews word-for-word in a constructed Soviet apartment set, performing both as his family members and himself before the camera with the help of costumes, makeup, props, and digital manipulation in video editing software.

 

By repeating the mannerisms, sentiments, and oral histories word-for-word, the artist seeks to arrive at a greater understanding of the experiences that molded his relatives’ identities, the biases in how they choose to recall and reconstruct intimate personal histories, and how these identities and impressions were passed along to subsequent generations. Ultimately, these testimonies are opinion-rich recollections that exude nostalgia for a romanticized Soviet childhood, outline the chaotic, and even humorous, at times, experience of immigration, and shed light on drastically different attitudes towards Soviet and American culture. Some relatives, for instance, were keen to discard all traces of their former selves when the opportunity first presented itself, while others still cling to the vestiges of Soviet popular culture and mentality.

 

 

(1) Susan E. Reid, “The Khrushchev Kitchen: Domesticating the Scientific-Technological Revolution.” Journal of Contemporary History (2005),

vol. 42, no. 2, 289.

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