Photo project

Living as an Ordinary Soviet Person

Mykhailo Palinchak, a Ukrainian photographer, has ended up with an unknown soviet author archive, the collection having hundreds of 60-80s era photos. The amateur photographer has documented the world around him in such detail that Palinchak relives all the significant life moments of this person with each opened envelope containing the film. He is happy with a new camera, rests in Yalta with his family, visits relatives in Poltava, walks around in Leningrad, and takes part in the May Day demonstrations.

Recently, Mykhailo Palinchak has got more into the vernacular photography and plunged into work with the archives. He got this one by chance: a familiar photographer from Dnipro called to say that his friends wanted to get rid of a large archive of some amateur. A week later, all the boxes had already been in Kyiv. The collection turned out to be huge, but it was meticulously sorted by shooting locations and years, from the 60s to the 80s. The envelopes contained slides, colour and black-and-white negatives, medium and narrow format — they only lacked the author’s signatures.

Mykhailo Palinchak

A Ukrainian street and documentary photographer, photojournalist, Petro Poroshenko’s photographer, «Ukrainian street photography» community initiator.

— A photographer I know almost nothing about yet — neither his name, nor his age or appearance — lived an ordinary life in Dubna city, Moscow oblast. I am unaware as to where he worked or what he was, but thanks to his hobby, I can go back several decades in time and witness the world through his eyes. He confides in me his personal life moments, the images of his family and friends, as well as the simple joys of the Soviet person. I see him taking part in the May Day demonstrations, subbotniks [clean-up days for the sake of the community — translator’s note] and various city celebrations; visiting relatives in Poltava and stopping by in Lviv, paying a tourist visit to Kyiv and Leningrad, and, of course, spending summer by the sea – in Yalta or Gelendzhik.

He longs for something eternal and stunning — sky, sea, forest and flowers, but also often finds beauty in the daily routine. These are the moments which have the greatest documentary value for me. I open an envelope — and find myself in 1962 Yalta, another one — and I am already in 1974 Lviv. With each new envelope I get to know ever-more about my character and his life. I already recognize his wife walking their daughter Galya or cleaning windows in their new flat at the city outskirts (the state must have given it to them) in the pictures. And in 1975 my character has bought himself a new Practica SLR, and I share his happiness over this purchase: the photos became much technical.

I consider this photo-archive resembling a time capsule, giving me the chance not only to see the life in USSR, but also to witness it all through the eyes of a particular person. Earlier, I only used to hear stories from my parents, but I witnessed little of it myself. Besides, this finding and working with the archive help me as a photographer to realize the value of my pictures today. I think about what the viewer will be interested in learning about our time in 50 years, what is important and what is secondary. This way I understand what and how I want to document and show to future generations better.

This photo-archive is like a time capsule, giving me the chance not only to see the life in USSR, but also to witness it all through the eyes of a particular person.

Palinchak USSR
Irkutsk
Palinchak USSR
1951
Palinchak USSR
Poltava, 1952
Palinchak USSR
Vladimir, 1958
Palinchak USSR
1961
Palinchak USSR
1962
Palinchak USSR
1962
Palinchak USSR
Yalta, 1962
Palinchak USSR
1963
Palinchak USSR
Lviv, 1963
Palinchak USSR
Lviv, 1963
Palinchak USSR
Poltava, 1964
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, winter of 1964
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, 1964
Palinchak USSR
Sukhumi, 1965
Palinchak USSR
Sukhumi, 1965
Palinchak_USSR
Lviv, 1968
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, 1971
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, winter of 1974
Palinchak USSR
Lviv, 1974
Palinchak USSR
Gelendzhik, 1976
Palinchak USSR
Gelendzhik, 1976
Palinchak USSR
Gelendzhik, 1976
Palinchak USSR
The Moscow Sea, 1981
Palinchak USSR
1982
Palinchak USSR
March 1982
Palinchak USSR
May 1, 1983
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, 1984
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, 1984
Palinchak USSR
Dubna, 1984

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