June 20 2011: Set of 14 Tanec Folklore Ensemble Postcards from Macedonia (1950s)

I initially picked up these postcards for their colour and sense of artifice, only later examining them more carefully to work out that they form a single series depicting the Tanec Ensemble from Skopje, a company founded in 1949 to promote the folk culture of the (then) People’s Republic of Macedonia, later part of Yugoslavia, and which now exists independently under the slightly unweildly provisional title of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a nomenclature apparently insisted on by Greece to avoid the possibility of future claims on its own territory, given that some nationalists consider the established modern borders of Greece to include lands that were once part of a unified ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. None of this political complexity seems to have touched these images. The actual postcards might date from any point before 1991, and were most likely printed in the 1970s or 80s, but their photography seems a good deal older. Looking at the colour processing and visual style that unifies these 14 postcards, there’s a distinctive saturation that seemed to last – in commercial printing – from the mid-1940s until the very early 1960s. The effect is to show Tanec’s dancers and musicians as an ensemble frozen into a sunlit summer’s day, unchanged in half a century even as the world around it has undergone seismic and sometimes violent shifts.   

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