Shostka region in the 1920-1930s

The artistic solution of the entire exhibition combines two local symbols – Krolevets towels (rooshnyks) and Shostka-made film. The towels here symbolize family comfort and human destiny, while the film plays the role of an unconditional chronicler whose change of frames shows the passage of time, the flow of history.

Life in the 1930s was marked by rapid changes in Shostka. The small settlement around military enterprises becomes a city and a center of further industrial construction, the old military powder and capsule factories are expanded, construction begins of the most modern film-production enterprise, the future Svema. It is the products of this plant of photosensitive materials that will be associated with the name of Shostka in the future. Stone multistory residential buildings “for the authorities” rise in the streets along with clubs, dormitories, kindergartens, schools, a technical school and an institute.

Photos of production and artistic groups at Shostka enterprises, schools, and the technical school clearly demonstrate these changes. Bodies well trained by sports, faces focused, people sitting closely together, and copper musical instruments show a happy pre-war life, enthusiasm for the construction of new plants, collectivism.

Rare photos of countryside and the community of the Makove village taken by young engineer Alexander Sekret, of the Ivot village taken by teacher Semyon Zhuryl, or of the Klyshki village taken by teacher Grigory Dudar make a radical contrast to the urban plots. They demonstrate a clear underdevelopment and preservation of the traditional way of life, despite the radical changes in peasant society. First of all, it is the establishment of collective farms. At this time, peasants move to live in Shostka not only in search of money, but also to flee the persecution of collectivization.

Biographies of successful and active residents of Shostka show the back side of industrialization and collectivization. The head of the orchestra of Factory No. 9 Andriy Vinyk was repressed and sentenced to 5 years in 1936. He served his sentence at the BAM (Baikal-Amur Mainline) construction site. He survived Stalin’s camps, fought in World War II, led an orchestra of street children after the war, and gave many of them a push into new life. When he was dying, 20 years after his release from the Gulag, he whispered to his daughter, “Hello, close the door, for they will come to beat me.” Photographer Ivan Karpov’s son-in-law and daughter were also repressed. The elderly couple took care of their little granddaughter. Only recently it become possible to speak publicly of the pain and loss of the loved ones in Stalin’s repression. In the past, such stories were shared only among family members.