Olga, Masha and Irina will never get back to Moscow, the place they grew up in and now are ardently missing. The three sisters in Anton Chekhov’s famous play from 1900 vividly depict the yearning emotion that this magazine is dedicated to. Nostalgia, the romantic longing for the past, has recently had a major significance in the Central and Eastern European historical landscape after a number of peaceful revolutions around 1989 caused radical political and social shifts. Longing for Moscow, as the place you will never go back to. Longing for the socialist past that is lost; its rhythm, its feel and its objects; longing for a past existence that suddenly broke away and tore with it the tissue of a whole life world. Nostalgia knows many forms of expression: from Lenin t-shirts – to the re-marketing of Tisza trainers – to the affection for decaying dachas in deserted sceneries – to the glorification of former politicians like János Kádár. There is many a despot who becomes a hero through nostalgic remembering. Does nostalgia foremost represent the longing for historical continuity and thus the desire to imagine perfect communities bound together by a common path? Is nostalgia prone to nationalistic fantasies and therefore an easy target of political plots aimed at the construction of a certain subject to be governed? Or, perhaps, is nostalgia simply and innocently a fundamental part of human memory, as in tenderly remembering one’s childhood? – Memory does not differentiate between Tito and a teddy bear. Longing for Moscow, as a space to imagine a different life. The three sisters, Olga, Masha and Irina, are dissatisfied with their existence in a provincial town far away from their former home. Yet, their nostalgic longing for a life and place other than their present one signifies on a larger scale in Chekhov’s play the search for meaning in a modernising world.
The publication in your hands is the result of an intense workshop at lake Balaton in May 2007 organised by the magazines Plotki and Anthropolis. A group of young writers, artists and academics from Hungary, Germany, Russia, Poland, Belarus, Serbia, Macedonia, Austria, Romania and Bulgaria set out to tackle the multilayered phenomenon ‘nostalgia’ from various directions.
Come on a journey with us through the hills and valleys of nostalgic landscapes in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Balázs Frida uncovers the Hungarians’ posthumous love for János Kádár. Balázs Antal researches the culture of growing plants in Budapest display windows. Nicole Dietrich writes on sounds travelling across the Iron Curtain between East and West Berlin. Peggy Meinfelder reconsiders by ink East German symbols. Neeltje Reijerman photographs remains of Soviet army buildings in Latvia as reminders of the Soviet occupation. Artyom Kosmarski and Tanya Zamirovskaya present their two post-Soviet musical autobiographies as spaces of protest, nostalgia, and fancy. Vladimir Stankovic revisits the Soviet gym. Magda Falska and Andy Blättler marvel about the appropriation of old Warsaw lamps in contemporary Zurich. Fruzsina Müller is interested in the retro-trend of Tisza shoes in Hungary. Ägnes Gagyi wonders if we can see a Romanian email-photo-chain with the title ‘Beware, EU, we are coming!’ as a representation of Romanian collective memory. Alnis Stakle photographs former symbols of Soviet pride. Mariya Ivancheva tells the story of the mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov in Sofia. Jörg Frank Seemann plans to build a light installation dealing with the darkness of the Eastern Bloc. Andrea Dezsö recalls moments of the archaic in urban space. Artyom Kosmarksi takes a stroll through Tashkent reflecting on its Soviet past and his relation to it. Aleksandra Kostiuk examines formerly forbidden photos of everyday life in Warsaw. Nicole Dörr asks what the political left can aspire to in a post-socialist world. Florin Poenaru gives an introduction to sex in socialist Romania and its nostalgic remembering. Achim Hatzius presents confusions and temporary solutions in being someone. Paula Muhr expresses the memories of her childhood in Serbia. Jasna Koteska recommends “freeing the memories” in Macedonian public discourse on the Yugoslavian past. Alexandra Trencséni reflects upon memory and identity. Isabella Willinger calls for a poetics of emotions vis-à-vis a politics of emotions.

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