Kazanskij Bazar

Initial impressions by strangers

This market in Kazan/Russia appeared to us as a phenomenon completely lacking structure. People pushing and shoving, roaring and shouting, a vast range of different products, mostly raw and unmanufactured. The meat was not industrially processed but prepared with an axe on the spot. Though people were very busy and hard-working, the market’s atmosphere was pleasant and cordial. All the smells and sounds – the unknown was enticing.

However, it was difficult to apply logic to all the commotion or maybe its logic can only be fathomed by locals who e.g. unlike us understood right away that young mates in leather jackets come around to collect protection money.

Diving into the market’s survival logic and its human element

These conditions were very fascinating to us and served as the impulse for making the film. We wanted to understand this scene mediated by the camera.  Who are the people working here and what sort of place is the market? It became clear, that everything that goes on at the market follows a certain logic, which is governed by necessity and survival. Surviving in a surrounding, which had lost established structures and was forced to give up traditional business relations.

Was our fascination somewhat naïve? Yes! There were clear structures at work, and there was no particular reason to get romantic. This is evidently shown in our film. But in spite of all formal difficulties, the film succeeds in showing something very fundamental: the spontaneity, the laughter, the disorder and in this sense an imperfect and deeply human element. After all, there is room for something outside of sheer logic.
This film has by now become a historical document: the market as we portrayed it doesn’t exist anymore. It has been altered, rebuilt, sterilized, and restructured to follow the logical system of capitalism, which created new dependencies and brought about standardisation.


Text translation from German: Kirstin Müller

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