The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Shutterbug Friday #7:
Dmitri Baltermants: The Big Red Army in Action!

Born in 1912, Dmitri Baltermants was perhaps the most prominent photo-journalist the old Soviet Union (not the happiest place for journalism of any kind) ever produced. In this, the first of two samplings of his work, we join the mighty Red Army on the field of battle during the Second World War . . . which was already in progress.

















































10 comments :

Robert Fiore said...

Like Isaac Babel with a camera, which is safer than being Isaac Babel with a pen. The trouble with being a Soviet photographer was that portions of your work tended to disaappear . . .

Vanwall said...

As with most Soviet films or stills from the Great Patriotic War, most, if not almost all, are carefully posed, or are wholesale recreations, or fictional tableaux. They weren't above doing multiple takes with captured German equipment being destroyed anew for the cameras. Sort of armed and dangerous Potemkin Villages, which just underscores the long history of Russian influential visuals.

I'm glad to see anything from that period, tho, as it wasn't very well covered in history classes, and it would be educational for most Muricans to even view them casually. The dead, oh so real and painfully common then, are mourned in real takes, and the T34s roll across the steppe after the Nazis, as did the Cossacks remorselessly following after Napoleon's ragged survivors. Nobody got out of the Eastern Front unscathed, and most of the early warriors didn't get out at all. That even this record got out is prolly the luck of the Stalinist/Post-Stalinist draw - either one those regimes could've decided it was part of the opposition, and had it all suppressed or destroyed, with Baltermants disappearing into the Siberian mists. I look forward to more of his work hear, great post.

H. P. L. said...

This is a really great series.
Some images remind of Larissa Sheptiko's "Ascent".

Maureen said...

Spectacular images.

Timmy said...

Ah, the glory of it all. Very compelling, yet somewhat presumtuous. I much prefer watching videos of the L.A. riots.

marietta said...

Dear Mr.Sutpen,um nur auf ein Foto einzugehen,da sitzt eine alte Dame am Klavier in einer hoffnungslos zerbomten Wohnung,und spielt klavier vier Soldaten hören zu .Was für eine Kraft der Musik,und der Würde dieser Frau.

marietta said...

Sorry,bei der vermeintlichen Pianistin handelt es sich bei näherem Hinsehen ebenfalls um einen Soldaten tut mir Leid,aber mein obiger Kommentar gilt trotzdem.Wie kann man in so einer desolaten Lokation an Musik denken.

marietta said...

Das Foto mit dem auf der Straße liegendem,wohl toten jungen Soldaten,treibt mir die Tränen in die Augen,wenn ich mir vorstelle,das könnte auch mein Sohn sein,bin ich nicht zu trösten.

Tommy O'C said...

One cannot view these images without assessing the Politburo propaganda machinations. But, as has been mentioned, these are disturbing and important images.

PS: Marietta, sprechen sie English, bitte. Non-German speakers aside, do you really expect us to use Google translator on your posts? Just my thoughts. Feel free to land on me.

Fred said...

As Vanwall pointed out, a great deal of the stills and footage from the Eastern Front were as staged and re-created as Brady's celebrated photos from the Civil War. One of the worst examples was from the capture of the Reichstag during the fateful battle for Berlin. The Reichstag was captured at night, but b/c the Red Army commandos didn't have a photographer with them, the entire victory was restaged with an entirely different crew of men, and the comrade who actually placed the Soviet flag on the Reichstag was replaced in the pictures with another soldier who didn't even participate in the actual battle. Of course, we still have the entire Mt. Surabachi photograph to explain on our side.