At the Dawn of Glasnost: Soviet Portraits

Proctor Jones, Photographer, Andrew Wachtel, Author Proctor Jones Publication $19.95 (136p) ISBN 978-0-9608860-5-0
If glasnost reflects a new Soviet openness, this self-published picture book, introduced by a sop piece from industrialist-diplomat Hammer, doesn't show it. In 1987 the Jonesesfather and sonand Wachtel, who collaborated on Classic Russian Idylls , gathered Soviet portraits and interviewsusually arranged by and invariably presided over by Zykov, the representative of Novosti (the Soviet agency that assists foreign press). Wachtel concedes that ``certain kinds of people, particularly dissidents and members of the extensive . . . underworld'' were therefore excluded, that ``certain statements were disingenuous'' and that Novosti sometimes showed them ``unusual'' and ``unrepresentative'' success stories. The result is predictably bland and simplistic. A provincial woman says, ``All of the Soviet people want to be your friends . . . Mikhail Gorbachev wants peace, too. I know because I talked with his mother. She was treated at the clinic where I worksuch a nice lady.'' The photographs vary: several are striking, other hackneyed; sometimes blurred, frequently either overexposed or poorly reproduced. Despite the stated intention of conveying the personalities of individuals, subjects emerge as stock figures. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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