Russia Reporting Tour 2017

IJ study tour to Moscow and St Petersburgh

Silent voice of Russian graffiti

  • 2017-10-12
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Nicole Kwok、Daisy LeeEdited by: Nicole Kwok、Daisy Lee
  • 2017-10-12

Street art is never welcomed in Russia. With high level of censorship, the authoritarian country does not allow much expression amid the existence of discontented undercurrents. Some said russian graffiti first took off in the days when the Western influences, especially American cultures, were introduced in the USSR. To be exact, breakdancing, derived from American hip-hop movies, partially brought the beginning of Russian graffiti subculture in the 1980s. Breakdancers became graffiti artists as they have to create eye-catching backdrops for performances. At the same time in late Soviet period, graffiti became a rebellious medium for the public, especially youth, to express non-conformity. Russian hippies use walls to share ideas of peace and kindness, while pacifists and anti-war groups began to use graffiti as a way to spread moral wrongs of war and their opposition to the Soviet Union in declaring war in Afghanistan. Russian graffiti artist Dmitri Aske once wrote, “A city is a large sandbox, and graffiti is one of the ways of existing within that sandbox.” He thinks that street arts, graffitis or patriotic drawings on the facade or fences of Russia reflects currents events of the place. In Russia, ‘Bombing’ is an important expressing method for local graffiti artists. It is a technique of quickly covering large areas with graffiti by tagging public transports, such as trains, or simply a whole street. Legal liability is one of the crucial concerns for graffitists all over the world. Though there is no typical law regulating graffiti in Russia, some Russian lawyers pointed out that anyone who is caught for painting graffiti can still be penalised by law enforcement under criminal code. Hurriyet Daily News reported in 2013 that Russian police had pressed charges of vandalism and graffiti which mocked Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.  According to the law, …

Traditional crafts, modernised production in Russia

  • 2017-09-13

Ranging from Matryoshkas to Filimonovo toy, Russian traditional handicrafts have been a favourite souvenir of tourists. Even with its unfailing popularity, the making of these folk arts has also gone through transformation owing to the country’s urbanisation.   Dmitry Vainshtein, the shop owner of Suveniry SPb said the most sold souvenir is the Russian Doll, which they can sell about 50 crafted toy every day. Yet, a nesting doll requires tedious procedures to finish which include detailed painting and polishing for 7 times which takes a worker at least one day to finish one layer on average. The manufacturing process of Matryoshka has certainly gone through industrialisation, said Nadia Aliyeva, the product sourcing manager of “Souvenirs antiques paintings amber”, “We have bought in more from factories in a big batch for the recent 20 years.” By Vystavochkina, daughter of Matryoshka artist Vera Vystavochkina often sell her mother’s work in an online shop and bring them to souvenir stores. “I am not interested inheriting the mantle,” she said, “I would rather live an office worker’s life to ensure a stable income.” According to statistics from Russian Federal State Statistics Service in 2015, the average monthly wage of a manufacturing worker is 31839 rubles, which is 54% less than those who pursue a career in Finance sector and 26.6% lower than the average monthly income in Russia. Apart from the Russian dolls, Filimonovo toys also face the challenge of reduced number of workers. The white toys are originally hand moulded by women in the village of Dymkovo as plaything for kids. Under urbanization, more villagers opt for working in the cities, reducing the number of filimonovo workers. “Many factories would pay children to do the clay moulding nowadays,” Vainshtein said, “so more workers can do the painting work instead.” He said it …