Soviet nature morts: recreating Dutch still lifes with USSR household staples 

19 May 2021

Rye bread, smoked fish, cold butter, ceramic wine jugs, and painted crockery: Olga Sinyutina celebrates ordinary USSR household staples in Dutch naturmorts.

Sinyutina, a Russian artist based between Taganrog and Rostov-on-Don, uses photography to put a Soviet twist on classic still lifes as part of her project Artefacts.

“I’m interested in the way the meaning behind objects transforms over time, so that common household items become artifacts,” explains Sinyutina. “For people from my generation and older, these are artifacts from childhood and adolescence. For younger people, they give them a chance to understand the past and its essence.”

The photographs pay tribute to the still life genre, which emerged in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries and depicts inanimate objects arranged over tables with delicate touches of light.

“It can be tricky to understand an epoch by its artifacts: the farther we are from that time, the more ghostly the meaning of its artifacts,” explains Sinyutina. “In mixing the canons of classic Dutch still lifes, in which objects carry a hidden message, with the everyday items of the Soviet era, I look for new meanings in their intersections.”

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