Jan 16 2012: A Folder Containing Thirteeen Small Postcards from a Former Soviet Republic (1955)

I’m not a hundred percent sure of my translation, so I’m not sure where the landscapes and views preserved in this 1955 folder of souvenir postcards from a former Soviet Republic are located, exactly, though it seems likely that they’re in the region of Azerbaijan or Armenia. The mysterious (to me, as someone unable to decipher the script, at least) series arrived in a package also containing a CD of music compiled by Martin Joela in Estonia, and you can explore his many musical discoveries in the back catalogues of former Soviet state record labels on his website, Melodija, whch is very highly recommended. As for these postcards, they’re intriguing for their mix of ancient and modern architecture, their preservation of (then) contemporary resorts with Greek and Roman style remains. The scenes feel easily recognisable, in a Mediterranean vein, yet slightly defamiliarised at the same time. We find ourselves looking at landscapes that are comparable to many that have become iconic to the point of invisibility (a phenomenon that someone once christened “the Mona Lisa syndrome”) yet have somehow escaped becoming over-photographed or reproduced. It’s like seeing a familiar set of visual tropes from a subtly fresh angle: these are tourist traps, certainly, but not quite as we know them.

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