Blinken OSA colleagues participated at the Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Virtual Convention, 2020.
Oksana Sarkisova, Research Fellow at Blinken OSA, was the convener of the panel session “Socialism and the Human Face: The Present of the Past through the Prism of Private Photographic Archives” which included presentations by Maria Gourieva, Friedrich Tjetjen, Monica Ruthers, and Oksana Sarkisova and comments by Gil Pasternak and Galina Orlova. The panel explored multiple approaches to private photo collections as rich primary sources that can help reconstruct various facets of the recent past. Despite the highly selective and repetitive nature of the snapshots that they tend to contain, they offer insights to everyday “lived socialism”, from material consumption to leisure practices and gender conventions. Oksana Sarkisova’s presentation “The Limits of the Visible: Silences, Oblivion, and Soviet-time Vernacular Photography” pointed out that private photographic collections focus on positive and socially rewarding occasions and may not contain visible markers of traumatic events experienced by the family members. However, the indexical nature of photographs does not mean that one can ever predict how a particular image is read or what sort of “evidence” it will become. The presentation engaged with how are the traumatic events narrated or silenced when family photographs are used to comment on the family past. The paper discusses the ability of photographs to invoke “what is not shown” and explored how photographs facilitate the generational transition from silence to oblivion.
Photo work from a series of photographs “Fathers and Children” by B. Krishtul.
RIA Novosti archive, image #684534, http://visualrian.ru/ru/site/gallery/#684534