Voices from the Underground is an afternoon of films that explore the artistic environment in Russia during, and just after, perestroika. Bringing together documentary material, most of which has never been shown in the UK, it charts a crucial period in Russian contemporary art and a breaking point in the country’s history.
Perestroika and glasnost – these two politically loaded terms have long ago entered the collective unconscious and have remained ingrained there ever since, outliving the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. They are synonymous with political reform, a relaxation of rules and impending freedom. Yet little else in cultural terms is known or understood about this short-lived period, a singular event of the late 20th century, which left behind hardly any material, cultural traces. Voices from the Underground demands, how can we understand the cultural specificity of the perestroika years and its impact on local artistic circles? What differentiates this unique historical period, and wherein lies its significance for us today?