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Home-Made: Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts Hardcover – June 1, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fuel Publishing; First Edition edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955006139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955006135
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
A television aerial made out of forks and a lamp made of aeroplane parts; a plastic colander mended in four different places; one shovel that recycles a `men at work' sign and another, the handle of a crutch; DIY sink-plungers, DIY torches, mudflaps, waffle-irons, telephones... These are a few of the `thingamyjigs' to be found in Vladimir Arkhipov's delightful `Home-Made', a sort of Blue Peter extravaganza of the Brezhnev era.
This small book, with it's colour photographs of funny, crudely made objects and short accompanying texts, achieves something matched by few conventional histories - a vivid and moving picture of real life behind the Iron Curtain. The shortages throughout the Soviet era and the Yeltsin years were, of course, the original impetus for much of this ingenuity. After the war there was terrible need, as the pathetic tools and rat-traps made during that time testify. Under Brezhnev, a version of communism was achieved in which money was more or less meaningless; there was not enough in the shops for people to spend their roubles on. Instead they relied on barter and complicated personal networks, friends who could weld metal or supply parts.
On the one hand, the `home-made' phenomenon is a lesson in why the Soviet economy collapsed - everyone was pilfering, not to mention spending their workdays doing their own and others' DIY. Arkhipov suggests that the activity was a direct response to life in the an oppresive state: `Each person who can make something with his hands prefers to make something small and concrete rather than uniting with others to change lives'.
On the other hand, to us living in the disposable age, Arkhipov's collection is something of a vindication of the Soviet Unions anti-consumerism. Each of these objects, however basic, is important.
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Format: Hardcover
While some of the circumstances that brought about these objects seem tragic, each suggests possibilities. The book also reminds me how stifling abundance can be: A man describes a radio he made, "This all seems incredible and ridiculous now, after you've seen the Chinese radios in the shops. There's so much of everything now, it's hard to understand the way we lived then. And how we should live now." Indeed.
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