Home-Made: Contemporary RussianFolk ArtifactsPrevious project Next project
205x125 mm hardback
Published in 2006
This book contains highlights from Russian artist Vladimir Arkhipov’s collection of unique artifacts. Objects made by ordinary Russians inspired by a lack of immediate access to manufactured goods during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The archive includes hundreds of objects created with often idiosyncratic functional qualities made for both inside and outside the home, such as a tiny bathtub plug carefully fashioned from a boot heel; a back massager made from an old wooden abacus; a road sign used as a street cleaner’s shovel; and a doormat made from beer bottle tops.
Featuring over 220 individual artifacts of Soviet culture, each accompanied by a photograph of the creator, their story of how the object came about, its function and the materials used to create it.
Nothing is as it seems in Home-Made. All the artefacts are the products of need, not design, in a country where for decades many essential items have been impossible to come by; a place where a construction of unwanted metal forks might serve as a TV aerial, or where a street sign might become a snow shovel.
There may be no better document of the phenomenon of the handmade object than Home-Made. The book gathers objects from over fifty years that represent individuality triumphing over the mainstream, disposable culture rampant today.
One of the most pleasing things about this book is the light it sheds on Soviet citizens’ real preoccupations – how to amuse your children while they are eating their dinner (a bubble wand), how to keep your fishing bait dry (an ingenious little box), or how to soothe a sore back (a back massager made out of an abacus). Home-Made achieves something unmatched by few conventional histories – a vivid and moving picture of real life behind the Iron Curtain.
Personal, innovative, occasionally heart-breaking, there is real depth in these pages. A profound critique of our throw-away culture.
The items in this elegant little book evoke a world in swift transition, in which these modest inventions loom large for a while – universal ephemera, destined to be soon lost or thrown away as circumstances changed, but preserved in this collection for their evocative power.
James Fenton in The Guardian
Home-Made features a wide range of characters. There is a foul-mouthed farmer from the Kaluga region who made a whip of old belts to scare his cattle. Then there is an arty young Moscovite who plays a guitar fashioned from pieces of wood because ‘the sound it makes is wild – you can never tell what it’ll do next.’
The Moscow Times