Strategies for Working with Soviet Past in the Post-Soviet Cultural Space (The Cases of TV-series Thaw, Kolyma Tales Performance by Yeltsin Centre’s ‘V tsentre’ theatre studio and Yury Dud’s YouTube film Kolyma – Birthplace of Russia’s Fear)


This article explores some of the strategies used to reconstruct the Soviet past in contemporary Russian culture. Soviet past is ubiquitous in contemporary Russia. Over the past decades, it has become simultaneously an object of nostalgia, an object of mythologisation, and an object of myth deconstruction. This article analyses the concepts of nostalgia, mythologisation and demythologisation and explores the strategies for aesthetisation, glamorisation, critique and deconstruction of the past. The research presented here is based on the analysis of creative texts produced in different art forms: cinema and drama, as well as various communication media that cater to different audiences – traditional one (film screenings, TV broadcast, stage plays) and new/younger one (video bloggers on YouTube). This article suggests that the strategies employed by various authors who work with the Soviet past depend not only on their value attitudes but also on their chosen communicative channels. Thus, the ‘traditional’ audience of mass TV channels is exposed to openly nostalgic interpretations of Soviet past, while the ‘younger’ audience of experimental theatre studios and YouTube channels, which lacks direct experience of Soviet period, requires different approaches. However, in all these art forms it is possible to move beyond nostalgia producing works that challenge retro-expectations.

Keywords: nostalgia, mythologisation, deconstruction, The Thaw TV series, Kolyma Tales performance, Yury Dud

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