Second-Hand Nostalgia: Composing a New Reality out of Old Things


In the last few years, the Moscow photographer Danila Tkachenko has produced several highly successful photo-series that creatively reworked and reframed important material objects of the socialist period. Using some of his projects as a case study, this article offers a methodological shift by approaching a second wave of nostalgia for communist past without relying on socialist experience as a key interpretative  and explanatory frame. As the essay shows, the decreasing prominence of the firsthand knowledge of socialist lifestyle is compensated by the increasing visibility and importance of (old) socialist things. The essay introduces the term ‘second-hand nostalgia’ to refer to this type of interaction with the material culture of the socialist period. Retaining the melancholic longing for the times past (typical for any nostalgia), the term points, simultaneously, to a condition of historical disconnect from originary contexts, which made possible the objects of current nostalgic fascination in the first place.

Keywords: nostalgia, material culture, Russia, postcommunism, photography

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