Anna Berseneva, writer
Cultural studies are perceived by the "ordinary" reader as something, perhaps, necessary for culture as a whole, but very far from his own life. The book “Unknown Russian photography. Digest of articles. Comp. and total. ed. Dm. Novikova (Moscow: Three squares; S.V. Chelnokov's Fund for the Preservation of Photo Heritage) refutes this cautious belief. The photographs presented in it are unusual: these are stereo images that were taken by Russian amateur photographers in the late 19th - early 20th centuries.
“Doctors, entrepreneurs, engineers, philanthropists are part of a moving, enterprising, creative and adventurous spirit that is rapidly driving Russia into a new era”, - writes its compiler, Dm. Novikov. - The authenticity of contact with the world and surprise, and sometimes the shock of this contact, bring these photographs closer to contemporary realistic Russian literature, echoing the reflections of the writers. This voice of the Russian intellectual, striving to speak directly, proceeding from convictions and belief in human dignity, is well known to us, and here it is also heard".
The book itself appears to be a jumble between visual art and literature - to capture and comprehend - the book itself appears: photographs in it are interspersed with essays. Each of the authors, including Marina Novikova-Grund, Dilyara Tasbulatova, Sergey Miturich, Yakov Mirkin, Hasan Huseynov, Maria Falikman and others, wrote about the photograph that turned out to be especially close to him personally.
For Yakov Mirkin, this is a photo from S.V. Chelnokov, made in November 1917. On it is a room after a search: a fringed tablecloth is crumpled, the floor is covered with sheets of paper, everything is turned upside down with deliberate cruelty. “You are an object in the circulation of other people whom you do not know. You are the subject of reasoning and action: go in, take, deliver, provide, verify, close, if it is necessary, act... It will be good if you still exist later", - Mirkin writes.
But, of course, a huge array of photographs is not limited to one topic, albeit such a significant one as repression. A huge volume of rich, meaningful life unfolds on the pages of the album. The photographs taken by the great engineer Vladimir Grigorievich Shukhov (1853-1939) show men and women in the simple and beautiful interiors of Russian city apartments of the early 20th century, children at the Christmas tree, massive spans of factory workshops, Easter celebrations in the Kremlin, a Moscow janitor standing by a fire hydrant, tram passengers, a cabman... Or here's a girl on a swing - Vera, Shukhov's daughter, in the courtyard of a house on Smolensky Boulevard, 1904.
“I wonder what kind of life she lived? - writes about this photo Vivian del Rio. - We know history, everything that happened afterwards. ...And in the photo there is a child who is just happy and does not know what lies ahead... Time is in every detail: in the construction of the swing, clothes, architecture behind the girl".
The nervous, powerful combination of knowledge about the future and the details of the present is the main attraction of the book. The fact that "crumbling pieces of glass, from which silver oxide is inexorably crumbled", survived in the twentieth century, is a real miracle. During the years of revolution, civil war, repressions, at all times when the past was undesirable and dangerous, they wandered through communal apartments and attics. And they survived in spite of everything.
“The photographer himself dies far away, in exile, his son is repressed and shot in 1944 in one of the camps, all the photographer's notes accompanying the photographs have disappeared”, - writes Sergey Miturich about the photo archive of Sergey Vasilyevich Chelnokov included in the book. - And the archive appeared to us from the past as a kind of mute witness, speaking in its own silent language. In this somewhat paradoxical appearance of the photo archive, Russian history itself appears as if out of nowhere, in silence”.
She had stories with all its large-scale meanings, and it was necessary for this book to come out.