Artists from the Soviet Era in Leningrad

Great online content to accompany Joanna Stingray’s recently published memoir, Red Wave: An American in the Soviet Music Underground, can be found here by a plethora of Soviet art and music videos of the era.

The Long Way Home, a rare documentary about Boris Grebenshchikov’s first recording in America. In English. Boris appeared on Letterman for the release of his album, “Radio Silence” (in English). You can see why David Bowie wanted to play Boris in a movie! His music was more experimental than that example, so check out this music video for “Thirst” (in Russian) with his band Aquarium, with Sergey Kuryokhin, and one of his current songs, “Basta Rasta,” where Grebenshchikov’s fusion of low-fi electronic bass with ska and reggae is really rocking.

Alongside this, it is interesting to contextualize Stingray’s memoir with abstract art of the 1980s and early ’90s. This is a clip of the famous hoax “Lenin was a mushroom,” a stunt by Sergey Kuryokhin that was believed by much of the country, because they were so used to propaganda.

Another counter-culture project of the time was “Pirate TV”, a hilarious spoof TV project undertaken in the early 1990s by Timur Novikov (on the left in the photo at the top of this post), Vlad Monroe and filmed on Timur’s camera by Yuris Lesnik. Joanna Stingray’s friend, Alex Kan, describes the following clip, “This particular program was shot on 19/08/1991 (see timecode), the day of the anti-Gorbachev coup and is nothing other than a mock-parody of the so called State Committee on the State of Emergency, set up by conspirators in their attempt to grab power from Gorbachev and steer the country back to communist ways. All that these people were saying was nothing but gibberish.”