Relationships of family members are created in gestures, glances, handshakes and embraces, eating together and doing things in common. It is surprising, but in special situations family members in fact, physically, form a circle, thus expressing the idea of cohesion in their movements. This happens on anniversaries, at the time of army conscription or return from the army, at funerals and memorials. This is a circle made up of extended family, family and friends. But it was not the only circle for Soviet people in the 1960—70s. In addition, there was a circle of classmates. During the first part of one’s life, this circle was always included in the “Pioneers” [Communist children’s organization] rituals, and later classmates were included in all the circumstances of transition in life — at weddings and funerals. At the center of the circle is usually a person, situation, or object that stands for — either seriously or jokingly — the unity of the group: a person who has been demobilized from service (a “dembel’“), a father's grave, a coffin, a feast, a baby, a grandma, newlyweds, or moonshine in a teapot. The circle itself is proof of the cohesion that is usually invisible and indistinguishable during the succession of days and worries — but here it is rendered in the fullness of bodily presence. Participants of group portraits try to show solidarity with the physical crowding of bodies and the desire to fit in with the picture. The photographer knows about the sacred secret inner circle too, and grasps its form with his reportage-style shots. The inner circle is composed of men and women, elders and younger family members, neighbors and friends, children and parents, aunts and uncles, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, matchmakers and brothers, uncles and buddies; each of us has our own separate relationships with each of them. It is those with whom we pass our life, but also those who are with us at the edges (death) and stages (weddings, anniversaries) of life — shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand.
Inna Veselova, Svetlana Adonyeva
Translation by Laura Olson Osterman, Jessika Aguilar, Alexandra Aleynik