art & design ephemera

a pop-up book from the former USSR

June 18, 2013

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It’s curious the random bits of ephemera one clings onto. Although some certain individual(s) in my intimate sphere would beg to differ, I’m really not a pack-rat. I go through cycles where I purge (usually via garage sales -or- if/when I’m feeling lazy I’ve recently discovered the ridiculous efficacy of curb alerts/FREE postings on Craigslist).

But there are those weird things that just manage to stick around. I even experience this phenomenon in regards to my wardrobe… a random tie or belt that’s just too amazing and classic to part with.

And then there’s this… a children’s pop-up book that was given to me in the late 1970’s by a relative who was, somehow, remarkably able to visit the former Soviet Republic during a tumultuous and frosty chapter of US and USSR relations.

There’s a whole generation that never got to fully experience the heightened chilling mood of the cold war–for my generation it was the Reagan-era arms race. Our nukes aimed at their nukes. Our enemy was well-defined both by boundaries and nationality.

My mom refused to let us see Red Dawn and The Morning After… I’m not sure if this was because she didn’t want us begging to sleep in her room or if she simply refused to let us be subjected to the hype machine.

Regardless, we survived and so did this amazingly and beautifully illustrated pop-up book. I don’t know a bit of Russian so I have no idea what this book is about other than the depiction of everyday citizens enjoying the tableau of their country. The watercolor and corresponding cut-outs are so well crafted. I love the details of the peoples outfits. I did notice one season not represented here. Hmmm.

There’s definitely a mood here, and with any good pop-up book… it’s easy to get lost in this strange weird little world that no longer exists.

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